The 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) wrapped up with the usual plethora of product debuts and announcements. Here are some highlights and trends related to power supplies and power management products.
One of the notable consumer technology trends visible at CES was wearables. In the Texas Instruments village, one of the demos included a smartwatch with unparalleled battery life, connectivity and Qi wireless charging. Also demonstrated was the TI bq25570 which helps harvest energy from body heat to power wearable gadgets.
Wireless charging was on full display at CES, with demonstrations and announcements by the Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP), the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC), Audi, Media Tek, PowerbyProxi, WiTricity, and more. This is the year where wireless charging is expected to gather momentum, with mass adoption projected for 2015.
Ford showcased the C-Max Solar Energi Concept car. A special lens that is able to autonomously reposition itself as the sun moves across the sky acts as a solar concentrator for the vehicle’s roof mounted solar panels, boosting solar energy capture by 8X. Over the course of a day, the “trickle charge” as Ford describes it, brings the C-Max’s high-voltage lithium-ion batteries to full charge for a 21-mile all-electric range.
Toyota displayed a fuel cell concept car that is expected to start selling in the U.S. next year. When fully fueled, the 300-mile range vehicle can also supply emergency energy to a house for a week. A special adapter connects the car into the home’s electrical grid.
In the area of personal mobility, Urban Mobility demonstrated the Urb-E alongside claims that it is “the world's most compact electric vehicle.” The fold-up, super-compact electric scooter can go 20 miles on its lithium-ion battery, and is meant to transport commuters for the “last mile” to their destination.
Mobile Power Solutions
Imation and Mophie previewed products that combine data storage and power storage. Imation’s Link™ Trio flash drive has a cylinder form factor and connects directly to your smartphone or tablet through a Micro USB (with USB OTG support) or Lightning connector to provide not only data access but also a power charge from the built-in battery. Mophie’s product is an iPhone 5s/5 battery case with built-in flash data storage.
Patriot showed their Fuel+ line of cute-looking external mobile rechargeable batteries as well as an iPhone 5/5s battery case.
In the way of unique battery cases, Yellow Jacket announced their new high-voltage stun gun case for iPhone 5/5S for preorder. The iPhone4/4S version (650,000V at .8mA) has been available since 2012. The latest case promises to deliver a 950,000-V at 1.3mA shock to deter your would-be assailant. Imagine the boost converter circuit on that!
The Chug Plug for MacBooks was demonstrated as a power brick that integrates into your existing power plug setup to charge up while your MacBook is running off the wall supply. The Chug Plug provides three to four extra hours of power when you are mobile.
ZAGG unveiled their new Sparq Powerbank line of sleek portable batteries that are available in 10,000mAh and 6,000 mAh capacities and provide two USB charging ports.
Goal Zero, the maker of outdoor gadgets for campers, introduced the Sherpa 100 battery bank which delivers 8800 mAh to power your devices in the field. The product is rechargeable from a 12-V car charger, a traditional wall outlet, or from a solar panel.
Also of possible interest to outdoor enthusiasts is the PowerPot X that was demonstrated at CES. The cooking pot uses thermoelectric technology – taking a temperature difference and turning it into electrical power - to charge two mobile devices at once through a USB port. The idea is to charge batteries while cooking in the great outdoors.
PC Power Supplies
Thermaltake unveiled their first digital power supplies (DPS) in their ToughPower series. The fully modular 750W to 1250W DPS feature efficiency in the 82-87% (80 Plus Gold Certified) or 89-94% (80 Plus Platinum Certified) range, and handy monitoring software to help you manage temperature, fan speed, efficiency, and cost to operate. It also includes the ability to immediately share results over twitter and facebook, if you are so inclined. That ties into another popular trend at CES this year described as “The Internet of Things”, where goods are all beginning to connect to the internet.
Enermax, LEPA, Be Quiet and Cooler Master also displayed their latest and upcoming PC power supplies, with high efficiency, quiet operation, and digital monitoring as popular themes.
Landa writes from Dallas, TX. She holds a BSEE, and has 18 years experience in the electronics industry, from tech startups to Fortune 500 companies.
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