SUPA pulls the plug on table lamps
If you don’t like the way that the power cords run from your table lamps to the wall outlet, looking messy and waiting to trip passers-by, then you might like SUPA. Standing for Smart Universal Power Antenna, the SUPA wireless system incorporates cordless lamps that receive their power by induction from a printed circuit board located on the underside of the tabletop.
The technology is being developed by Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Electronic Nano Systems and the University of Paderborn, along with four industrial partners.
The circuit board used in the system features a network of electromagnetic coils, each one acting as a transmitting antenna. When one of the SUPA lamps is placed on the table, receiving coils in that lamp are able to convert the board’s emitted magnetic fields into electricity – it’s not unlike the system used by Korea’s OLEV buses, or Fujitsu’s wireless monitor.
In the same way that the roads in Korea aren’t constantly subjecting everyone on and around them to electromagnetic radiation, however, the SUPA board also only transmits when a lamp is placed above it, and only through that area of the tabletop. It does so by detecting the receiving coils within the lamp, although the scientists are also developing a system that will allow the board and lamp to “speak” to one another. By doing so, the board could check that the lamp is entitled to receive energy from it, and then ascertain how much energy it needs.
SUPA could additionally be used to power items such as smartphones and laptops placed upon the tabletop, plus it could even be adapted to transmit data.
The first SUPA lamps and printed circuit boards are expected to be commercially available by the end of next year. The boards will be made in multiple sizes, so they can be used on a wide variety of existing tables.