Imagine a glass worktable, kitchen countertop, retail display or even an autonomous vehicle’s windshield that can supply power without all the cable spaghetti showing.
Cohda Design Ltd. in Gateshead, England, has figured out a way to do just that, with its Power Tap. The patented technology, called P-Tap for short, is a transparent lamination of conductive and nonconductive glass that enables power or data to be transferred across individual layers within the lamination. Devices can be powered by connecting them to premachined, customizable apertures tap into the positively and negatively charged inner coatings.
“Removing the need for wires offers designers, architects and engineers limitless design opportunities to locate powered devices within transparent structures,” the company states on its website. “Devices such as USB sockets, induction charging pads, motors, cameras, sensors and digital displays can all be seamlessly integrated.”
Cohda has licensed the technology to companies such as Zytronic PLC, based in nearby Blaydon-on-Tyne, England, whose ElectroglaZ products will be available as early as next year.
“It’s a neat trick, but unlike desks featuring built-in wireless chargers where you can simply plop a smartphone down to recharge it, the P-Tap glass requires special power outlets to be installed to deliver power or data signals to connected devices,” Andrew Liszewski wrote in Gizmodo. “Each piece of the glass acts as a sort of big flat power cord, and the outlets tap into the various conductive layers to pass electricity onto attached devices. So it’s not true wireless power where any device resting on the glass surface draws juice, but connected devices appearing to float and work without visible wires is still a neat effect.”
Early applications of Cohda’s P-Tap technology include LED-lit display cases and shelving units for museums and induction-charging smart tables for high-end retail stores.
“P-Tap technology lends itself perfectly to the museum, art and point-of-sale lighting markets, removing the need for intrusive cables and rod systems to deliver power, thus opening up new design opportunities for lighting designers to locate luminaires where necessary and not where dictated to by the constraints of wires,” according to the company.
Another potential use case is autonomous vehicle windshields. P-Tap technology will be able power head-up displays, i.e., virtual dashboards, embedded LED headlights, wireless steering, pedals, parking brakes, safety sensors and door locks.
P-Tap could also be the new rage in kitchens.
“A kitchen could see all the granite replaced with see-through countertops with floating electric stove elements and even a flatscreen TV panel built into a glass backsplash,” Liszewski wrote. “Aesthetically, the upgrade would probably feel incredibly dated a decade later. But for a few precious years, you’d have a kitchen that looks straight out of Tony Stark’s compound. (Before, you know, all the explosions and stuff.)”