3 Technologies That Will Change The Way We Charge

Image courtesy of Jim Bauer.

Image courtesy of Jim Bauer.

Utilizing ultrasound, RFsignals, and superspeed, three companies are trying to change the way we charge our devices.

#1 uBeam Wireless has created a way to charge devices wirelessly through ultrasound. The prototype uses ultrasound to send electricity to devices up to 15 feet away. All it takes is a receiver on your phone, and your device receives electricity like WiFi. The device isn’t out yet, but you can learn more about it from TechCrunch and The New York Times.

#2 Nikola Labs turns RF signals (like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and LTE) into power for your device. The company has created an iPhone case that can wirelessly charge your phone wherever you go. According to TechCrunch, the case  converts wasted energy from the phone and converts it to battery life, powering it up to 30% longer. Nikola Labs will launch a Kickstarter campaign with the case soon.

#3 Nucleus Scientific wants to charge a phone in the amount of time it takes to fill your car’s gas tank. Their new Intelligent Energy System “reduces battery charging times from hours to minutes while extending lifetimes considerably,” according to the company’s website. The technology is still patent-pending.


In 10 Years Your Kitchen May Not Have A Fridge Or Stove

Screenshot of the Table For Living video on Vimeo.

Screenshot of A Table For Living video on Vimeo.

In August 2013, IKEA and IDEO brought students from various international universities together to answer some important questions: What will life around food look like in 2025? Will we be able to help people like healthier, more sustainable lifestyles?

It was up to the students to re-imagine life and the kitchen in 10 years.  In the end, the students’ ideas were featured on the collaboration’s website, Concept Kitchen 2025. The students share a very interesting and optimistic view of where we’ll be in the next decade. Below are two that are particularly mind-blowing.

A Table For Living
What is A Table For Living? One that acts a phone charger, kids toy, stove top, coffee warmer, and tablet, of course. The students who designed this concept table really imagined it as being the center of kitchen life and functional in many, practical ways.

The Table For Living can do quite a bit, including suggesting recipes based on the food items you place on it. You can also pick a meal you want to make, and the table will project various versions of the recipe based on your ingredients, and how long you want to spend cooking. Oh – and the designed table also measures out some foods for you.

In addition to being your new cooking helper, the table is designed to have induction built into the top, so that you can cook food as you’re making and prepping it – right on the same surface.  It can also charge phones or serve as a way for kids to animate their toys.

‘Casual Technology’ Shelving
What if your kitchen shelves kept your food cool? Well, in another design to come out of the program, they can.

The ‘Casual Technology’ shelving uses storage containers that can be cooled using induction, meaning that you may not need a fridge in 2025. Just place your food and beverages inside the boxes, and the shelves can keep them at just the right temperature.

Even better, the containers are designed to work with the Table For Living so that you can grab that piece of leftover pizza from the shelf and heat it up in its container right on the table. Now that sounds convenient.

I encourage you to check out other concepts from that came out of the program. Although these technologies will probably not make it to the consumer in their current forms, IDEO and IKEA do know how to get things done, and in 10 years, we may see products similar to these in our kitchens.

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The Coolest Clock Is Wrapping Up Its Indiegogo Campaign

Image courtesy of Coolest Clock.

Image courtesy of Coolest Clock.

Is the Coolest Clock the coolest clock? Perhaps. This customizable clock is a projection system and one of the more revolutionary time-keeping devices in recent years.

The Coolest Clock doesn’t look like much before it’s turned on – just a plain, white semicircle. But once it’s attached to a wall and powered up, the clock displays much more than just the time.

Using a projection system, the clock displays real-time information, including the weather, breaking news, calendar alerts, and social media updates. It also includes various, customizable displays that can also change size so that the clock adjusts to your needs and preferences.

The clock is controlled by a smartphone app, so that the display can be easily changed. It can also display information from your device, like your location or your latest photos to help you stay connected with loved ones when you’re away from home.

The Coolest Clock is wrapping up its Indiegogo campaign this week. It’s already been successfully funded (by far), but you have a few days left to pre-order the clock for $199, which is $100 off future retail prices. The clock is expected to ship at the end of 2015.

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The Smart Home Powered By… Ikea?

Wireless charging at Starbucks. Image courtesy of Shinya Suzuki.

Wireless charging at Starbucks. Image courtesy of Shinya Suzuki.

I own so much Ikea furniture that my apartment could be a picture in their catalog, but unfortunately none of my bazillion pieces of furniture can wirelessly charge my phone. That may change now that Ikea has announced a new commitment called Home Smart, which focuses on creating the home of the future.

The first functionality of Home Smart will be furniture that has built-in wireless phone chargers. The Swedish design company has created various lamps and bedside tables with integrated wireless chargers as well as docks that can work with existing furniture.

Wireless charging is still relatively novel, however, so don’t expect your smart phone to work as is with the chargers. There are currently two competing standards for wireless charging. The first is Power Matters Alliance, which is used by companies like Starbucks and AT&T, and the second is the World Power Consortium’s Qi charging standard, which Ikea’s furniture will be using.

Most businesses are reluctant to put wireless charging into their products until they see which charging standard catches on. Ikea is a member of the World Power Consortium, so it makes perfect sense that they are pushing for Qi.

Despite the literal power struggle, you can still retrofit your smartphone to work with the new furniture by buying a case, which Ikea will of course sell with their products. Or, if you have a Samsung Galaxy S6, there’s no need to buy a case because Samsung added both power standards to their new flagship phone.

The furniture must also be placed against near an outlet to get power to the wireless chargers, and wireless charging has been reported to be significantly slower than plugging your phone in the “old fashioned” way.

If you want one of Ikea’s affordable, sturdy, but self- (need to have wine close by while) assembling pieces of furniture, they go on sale mid-April in stores and online.

Related Reading
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Want to stay up-to-date with latest health/tech trends? Follow us to get emails when new posts get published, then follow Crunch Theory on Facebook and Twitter.

MIT is Reinventing the Power Cord

MIT’s Tangible Media Group is rethinking how we power our devices. The lab has invented a prototype that provides several new ways to interact with technology, just by playing the power cord.

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  1. Knotting for Detailed Control
    By tying a knot in MIT’s augmented cord, you can control just how bright your lights are. That way, by tightening or loosening the knot, you can dim or brighten the lights to the level of your exact choosing. Or, with multiple knots, you’d be able to change the colorof the lights.
  1. Pinching to Pause
    The prototype allows you to temporarily pause electronics with a simple pinch. That way, if you need to listen to something briefly and don’t want the next part of the podcast, simply pinch the headphones. Or, to put your computer into sleep mode, simply put paperclip-like pressure on the cord.
  1. Bending to Power On and Off
    MIT also images the whole cable acting as a switch. You are able to  turn electronics on and off by a quick bend of the cord, whether with your hands or feet.

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The Digital Experience Is following You to the Bathroom… And It’s Better than You Might Think

There’s a house party happening with steam, lights, and surround sound coming to a bathroom near you.

DTV+ is a digital showering experience brought to you by Kohler, a 112-year-old manufacturing company who realizes that the typical bathroom needs a makeover.

Kohler describes the DTV+ as a multi-sensory showering experience, allowing the user to control  the timing and temperature of the water, colors above, amount of steam, sound and more… from a touchscreen. That’s right, this thing is controlled by a touchscreen instead of knobs.

The shower comes pre-programmed with some relaxing spa experiences based on hydrotherapies, but if you prefer to star in your own rock show, you can blare music from the surround sound speakers with flashing lights overhead.

To really get any idea for how it works and find a showroom near you,  visit their beautifully designed website.

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