Powermat announces wireless charging system

Wireless gadget charging company Powermat, which we first saw at CES this year, is about to unleash the first generation of its product on the market, targeted at iPhone and BlackBerry users.

Why them? Because the company has built a case for iPods and a battery cover for BlackBerrys that let you easily charge the devices without much hassle. Other products are possible to charge, though they need to be connected in a slightly more complex way.

The Powermat sits silently when there's nothing on it, consuming milliwatts of power. However, when you place a compatible gadget on it, an RFID chip detects its presence and begins the charging process. Three different things can be charged at any one time.

The standard powermat can also be replaced by a travel version, which folds down into a smaller space for ease of transport. It comes with a plug that can be switched to whatever country you're in, and the company confirmed that it has approached the designer of the "flat plug" about featuring it in the next generation of its products.

That next generation is due towards the middle of 2010 and will enable devices with higher power requirements, like laptops, to be charged with the electromagnetic induction technology behind the powermat.

The Powermat will be arriving in the UK in the first week of October, and will cost £70. The travel version is slightly more, at £80, and a "cube" which comes with tips for many common gadgets, costs £30.

The backplate for BlackBerry devices costs £30, and cases for the iPod touch and iPhone cost £35. The price difference between BlackBerry and the iPod versions was explained by the company to us as "because Apple needs its royalty".

The future might see Powermats embedded directly into walls, tabletops and other surfaces, meaning your desk could soon become an invisible connectivity point for wireless energy.