When I bought my first car in 2004, the first accessory I installed in my VW was an iPod adapter kit. The iPod was still in its infancy and not many people listened to them in cars, but being a huge music fan meant that I took advantage of any opportunity to rock out to my favorite bands. It only took one day of using the iPod while driving to make me realize I made a wise investment and that I also needed a car charger because the battery would die by the end of the day.
Charging my iPod in the car was so convenient that I also purchased a charger for my smartphone and a DC-to-AC converter for my laptop. I was now charging several gadgets throughout the day as I needed them but the passenger seat of my new car became a tangled weave of wires. Inductive charging (better known as wireless charging) technology was still two years away but I was already looking forward to the day when I would be able to ditch the wires and charge my devices by simply placing them on my dash. Ten years later, that day has finally arrived.
GM has announced that Powermat wireless charging will come standard in all 2015 Cadillac ATS and CTS sport sedans, as well as all future Escalade SUVs. They also have plans to eventually bring the technology to all GM models and, if other car manufacturers are taking notice, then they should also follow suit. Apparently, I’m not the only person who can benefit from charging their mobile devices while driving.
According to a recent survey conducted by Ryan Sanderson, Associate Director of Power Supply & Storage Components at IHS Technology, “70 percent of consumers charge their mobile phone at least once per day, with 30 percent charging more than once.” Because many people carry a charger with them so they can recharge batteries as needed, the Powermat can cut down on the clutter and make it easy to charge as you drive.
GM’s wireless charging feature will be located inside a fully motorized center instrument panel. If you’ve ever charged a device inside your car, you know this is the perfect location because it’s convenient and safe. Drivers will be able to take advantage of all the connectivity elements of their mobile device while keeping both hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road – all while charging their device at the same time.
“Our lifestyles have evolved in a more mobile way than ever before and with that comes an even greater need for access to power in those places where we spend the majority of our time. Our integration into Cadillac is only the first step in the evolution of portable power in places that include your car, your coffee house and even your favorite sporting arena.”
– Ran Poliakine, Powermat CEO
Powermat envisions a world where wireless charging will be everywhere you need it to be and that dream is slowly coming true. Starbucks has already commenced rolling out Powermat charging stations nationwide and soon we’ll all be able to charge our mobile devices wirelessly as we enjoy our Grande Americano’s. But I imagine greater things for Powermat.
With Android Auto and Apple CarPlay in the horizon, I foresee a future where our phone will be a major component of our driving. Navigation, music, phone calls, text messaging, email, and many other functions are already possible for your smartphone to handle inside a car, but imagine if it could actually drive the car for you. I know this idea may seem illogical and far-fetched to some, but so did self-driving vehicles and those are already on some roads. I don’t know if Powermat or GM will create a smartphone-powered vehicle, but I do think having the car capable of wirelessly charging mobile devices is the first step towards fully embedding our mobile lifestyle into our cars.
GM invested $5 million in Powermat in January of 2011 because they knew the demand for wireless charging would only grow as our life became more mobile. Now, nearly four years later, they are breaking new ground in the automotive industry that will hopefully set a trend for others to imitate. I only wish this would have happened sooner because I still drive the same car I bought brand new ten years ago and I still have a rat’s nest of wires in my passenger’s seat. But as I’m rapidly approaching a need to buy a new car again, GM will definitely be at the top of the list because of the Powermat.
If your mobile device is capable of wireless charging, will you dump the wires for a Powermat-equipped vehicle? Do you think integrating smartphones into our vehicles is a good thing?