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Fulton Innovation blows our minds with eCoupled wireless Tesla, inductive cereal boxes (video)

Tim Stevens
01.06.11
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Wondering what your future kitchen looks like? Take a gander at what Fulton Innovation is showing at CES this year. They're also giving a peek at the future of retail shopping, and even parking lots. It's all the magic of inductive charging, and now that the Qi standard has been finalized it seems like things are coming together. Really together, in everything from cereal boxes with blinkenlights to Tesla Roadsters that charge almost as quickly as with a wire but, quite obviously, without the wire. Would you like to know more? Click on through.

Gallery: Fulton Innovation at CES | 21 Photos


The thing that brought us to Fulton Innovation in the first place was the wireless Tesla charging. The model on display here is an obvious retrofit, a coil stuck between the front wheels that runs to an AC/DC converter and then, quite inelegantly, to a cable running out a vent and into the input on the car itself. This is an obvious retrofit but it was done with purpose: to show that without modifying the internal systems of the car wireless charging can be done -- and reasonably efficiently, too.

This form of charging is 80 percent efficient, but the company estimates that with a more integrated system (mainly deleting the converter) they could get to 89 percent efficiency. The wired charger? It clocks in at 96 percent efficiency, meaning for any given voltage the charging time would only be about 7 seven percent slower going wireless -- a potentially small price to pay for the ability to turn an entire parking lot into a charging station without having to worry about wires or vandalism or semi-inadvertent electrocution of curious people who decide to see what happens when terminals get licked.

Most impressive? Inductive charging like this gets more efficient as you raise the voltage, meaning that as you go from 120 to 240 and even 480 (ala CHAdeMO) that efficiency could get even higher. A 30 minute quick-charge without wires? Call us interested.

But that's just one application. There were a suite of retail packaging demos on display that blink or flash, grabbing your attention and, in theory, connecting to a grocery list on a smart phone to help you identify the product on the shelf -- imagine the cardamom amping up the blinkenlights to help you find it. Naturally, though, we think the primary application will be in sugary cereals catching the gaze of wide-eyed kids. Soon we'll all be wearing sunglasses in the cereal aisle.


There's also a can of Chunky Soup that cooks itself -- in the can -- and of course inductive pots and pans and, yes, inductive charging smartphones too. The best part is there's no need for a special charging pad: there are retrofit kits coming to install under nearly any counter top surface (up to about four inches thick) that could, in theory, turn every horizontal plane in your kitchen into a cooking surface, device recharger, and, apparently, cereal blinkelighter.

Yes, it's all conceptual, but the company has enough partners lined up now to give us hope that we'll start seeing this stuff become a reality outside of the show floor. Maybe in time for next year's show.

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