He’s cutting the cord.
New York rap legend Jay-Z is famously in an “Empire State of Mind,” but he thinks something in the city he loves simply has to go: power cables.
On Monday, June 11, the rap powerhouse unveiled a partnership with Duracell and Proctor & Gamble to market wireless charging systems and deploy wireless hotspots at several major locations around the city, including the multimillionaire’s own 40/40 Club on Madison Square Park in Manhattan.
“Mobile devices have become essential tools in business, entertainment and managing our social lives,” said Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter, an investor in the Duracell Powermat joint venture. “Being able to charge wirelessly is a necessary step into the future.”
Maybe so, but the magical-seeming phenomenon of electromagnetic induction it relies on is actually a page from the past -- discovered in the early 1800s by pioneering scientists like Faraday and Tesla. It uses magnetic waves to create an electric current -- only over a short distance, like from that base station to your toothbrush, but that’s far enough to juice an iPhone.
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”All they will need to do is put their phone on the table, same thing they normally do. The only difference is that now, their smartphones will get charged from the table,” said Duracell Powermat CEO Ron Rabinowitz.
In other words, with Powermat, you’ll have 99 problems, but a dead iPhone won’t be one.
Jay-Z is hardly the first to find the concept fascinating: Beyond toothbrushes, it’s built into cars, power tools and more. Evatran has developed a Plugless Power system to recharge a Chevy Volt or Nissan Leaf -- just drive that electric car over the dinner-plate sized hotspot in your garage and forget about it.
'Being able to charge wirelessly is a step into the future.'
- Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter
Yet induction power has been painfully slow to catch on in consumer electronics. A system from 10 years ago by SplashPower and others were essentially the same thing.
Duracell Powermat hopes to finally kickstart the wireless revolution with the $99 iPhone charging system it just unveiled, called the 24-Hour Power System. (A fall follow-on will support the hotly anticipated Samsung Galaxy SIII, the company says.)
The kit contains a sleek charging mat that serves as a wireless power transmitter. Plug it into a wall outlet and it will send power to any device you place on top of it -- provided that gadget has the right receiver, of course.
It also contains a portable backup battery with micro-USB output and iPhone connection, to keep you going if a hotspot isn’t around.
“Imagine a [wireless power] matt in every room and a friend’s house, you can just go in and charge no matter what,” Rabinowitz told FoxNews.com.
Jay-Z is right: Keeping our gizmos going is a necessity. The company is unwiring Manhattan by installing wireless hotspots first around New York City, and then through other major metropolitan areas through the country.
In New York, you’ll find the round plastic disks about the size of a coffee cup at the Delta terminal in JFK airport, scattered around Madison Square Garden, in some shopping plazas and more.
But wait: Didn’t Jay-Z write “Brooklyn’s Finest” and “Brooklyn Go Hard”?
You guessed it: The basketball-loving Brooklyn boy said wireless hotspots also will be built into the new Barclay’s Center, where the Brooklyn Nets will play next year.
“If there’s one place in the world where people need this, it’s in the 24-hour city,” Rabinowitz told FoxNews.com.
To fully realize the wireless power vision, chips that facilitate induction-charging need to be built directly into smartphones themselves, however, something that may be cost prohibitive at present. For now, cases are where it’s at. Look for a range of colorful ones from third parties in the near future, the company said.
Stassi Anastassov, chairman of the board of directors for Duracell Powermat, likened induction charging to a Bluetooth adapter he had bought for a laptop years ago, and recently stumbled across. The wireless Bluetooth connection technology is built into nearly every laptop and smartphone today, but was far less common just 5 years ago.
“Someday, it’s going to be built-in everywhere you go,” he told FoxNews.com.
Jeremy A. Kaplan is Science and Technology editor at FoxNews.com, where he heads up coverage of gadgets, the online world, space travel, nature, the environment, and more. Prior to joining Fox, he was executive editor of PC Magazine, co-host of the Fastest Geek competition, and a founding editor of GoodCleanTech.