The idea of wireless charging isn't new, but it may actually arrive in devices as early as next year, according to Intel, which has long promoted the technology. It won't replace cords entirely, but it could help your phone get through the day.
Previous wireless charging tech required special accessories like mats or cases, but the latest spec could be built right into the phone. It would have to sit about an inch from the power-giving device (your laptop, for instance), but it could be done anywhere with no fuss or extra parts.
The news Intel is touting this week is that Integrated Device Technology is working on putting out chipsets featuring Intel's Wireless Charging Technology in early 2013. That means that companies further downstream (like Samsung and Apple) can evaluate them and decide whether to include them in their devices.
Wires are out of fashion in the tech world and anything companies can do to set themselves apart from the competition is always welcome. It's a fairly modest capability they'd be adding, though: Intel describes the system as allowing your phone to "make it through through the afternoon" after an hour of charging. And of course the two devices will have to be compatible — but since Intel is such a giant in the industry, it may be able to make that easy.
It's not just your phone that could benefit — imagine a cellular dongle or USB drive that could be powered on just by setting it next to your computer, or a desk that charges your laptop as soon as you set it down. That sort of thing won't be a reality for a year at the very least, and probably longer, but it's no longer just a tech demo to be shown at trade shows.
Expect more news on this front at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, where Intel tends to show off its futuristic tech even in unfinished form.
Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer for NBC News Digital. His personal website is coldewey.cc.