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Swanky Solar-powered Table Wirelessly Charges Multiple Devices At Once

BARCELONA: More and more phones and devices are able to be charged wirelessly these days, but that usually still requires a pad for each that takes up a power plug. Now, a Spanish start-up called Proton New Energy Future has unveiled Ebörd, a smart table that has a wireless charger built into the entire surface, allowing it to charge multiple devices at once. Better yet, it harvests energy from the Sun or even artificial light.

With a dark glass top and metal frame, the Ebörd looks like any other modern Ikea-style furnishing, but there’s quite a bit of decent tech hidden under the hood. Other pieces of furniture with built-in wireless charging surfaces usually make do with one or two charging coils, meaning you have to put the device down on a certain spot. But the Ebörd packs in more than 50 coils, letting users charge up to four devices anywhere on the top.

The Ebörd uses the Qi charging platform, meaning it should work with the last few generations of iPhones and Samsung Galaxies, as well as the Google Pixel 3 and 3 XL and flagship phones from Sony, Nokia, LG and others. Major smartwatches, tablets, earbuds and other devices all use Qi as standard too. And for devices that aren’t directly supported, the table comes with two adapters.

In keeping with the wireless theme, the Ebörd doesn’t plug into a wall outlet itself. Instead, the table’s surface is photovoltaic, with a thin film panel that allows it to soak up sunlight and store it in a beefy 10 Ah battery. The company claims to have a patent on a membrane built with a protein from a marine bacteria, which it says boosts the performance of the solar modules by 60 percent in low light conditions.

The company also says that the Ebörd can even absorb artificial light, but we’d take that with a hefty grain of salt. This isn’t entirely unheard of – a Virginia Tech team demonstrated the idea a few years ago, but that was on a tiny scale. It’s pretty unlikely that the table, placed in a dank corner, will be able to generate enough energy to power a smartphone in any useful amount of time. But stick it in a bright and sunny living room, and this looks like a pretty elegant wireless charger.

To make sure it can safely function as a regular table as well, the Ebörd is waterproof, so there’s no need to worry about resting a drink on it. And for those looking to really splash out, there are two premium models, one adding a “chill” LED lighting system and the other a Bluetooth surround sound speaker system.

Proton is currently funding Ebörd on Indigo where it’s beaten its US$20,000 goal with 18 days left on the campaign. Early Bird pledges start at $450 for the basic table, or $570 for either of the premium versions, which is 40 percent off of what the company plans to sell them for later. If all goes to plan, shipping is set to begin this November.