I'm willing to bet a majority of us who use laptops and cell phones on a daily basis probably use those laptops to charge said cell phones. But to make that process easier, and to eliminate one more wire we have to carry around, Intel is testing out inductive charging. Just set your phone next to the laptop and it'll charge up.
Before we haul off and say this is a greener solution since you don't have to worry about extra cords (personally I've gone through two USB chargers in a year as the wires wear out), we'd like to know more about efficiency and the embodied energy of the transmitter (AKA "special bump") installed on the side of the laptop and the receiver on the cell phone. We're guessing it's much larger than the embodied energy of a simple USB cord.
The Verge writes, "Intel's new all-in-one PC concept features inductive charging for your keyboard, but the company isn't stopping there — it envisages a future where ultrabooks will top up your phone. Demonstrated with an Acer Aspire laptop, the wireless charger is slimline enough not to add too much bulk to the ultrabook's form, and it can charge a compatible phone when in close proximity. You'll know that it's working when you hear a satisfying ping, and a notification also pops up on the notebook's screen. The idea is that you won't have to carry around your phone charger so often, though we wonder if it might make a power source for your laptop a little more of a necessity."
We'd also like to know if it would actually replace cords at all. As a commenter on The Verge article points out: "It is cool for charging your phone but most of the time when I plug my phone into my laptop it is to access the storage. If I know I’m going to be using the laptop for a while then I leave it plugged in to charge, while I’m also using the phone storage."
Could this be a greener way to charge up a cell phone? Potentially -- and we really like the concept. But we're not quite there yet.