Wireless power falls into that "too good to be true" product category of awesome technology year after year at CES. We all want it--hence the buzz around Palm's TouchStone dock when the Pre first came out--but every year we still our phones and laptops tethered to power sockets. Bad news: this won't be the year wireless power conquers all and lets you charge all the electronic devices in your house by throwing them haphazardly onto a charging table.
Good news: the Wireless Power Consortium has made big advances since CES 2011. In the span of a year, the Consortium's jumped from 20 prototypes to 80; four months after the Consortium's Qi standard was launched in July 2010, wireless power was already showing up in the wild.
The Wireless Consortium ratified before CES 2011 and mainly had prototype charging stations and devices to show off last year. This year the group had a number of cell phones and phone batteries with embedded charging built in. As more companies get on board with wireless power, it will become easier to buy replaceable batteries to get in on wireless charging on the cheap.
In the next year, the Consortium's aiming to advance from 5 watt charging (smartphones) up to 10 watts (tablets). The charging pads themselves are improving, too. As the transmitter coils get bigger and better, charging surfaces grow from tiny millimeter-accurate targets to spacious surfaces. The first installation of a big charger popped up in the wild at Windsor International Airport in Ontario in 2010.
The tables are looking good; we just need embedded chargers in our phones to take advantage of them.