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The future of the PC revealed

How advanced technologies will shape tomorrow's PCs

As technology moves at an ever-increasing speed, every aspect of computing looks set to change. But just what can we expect at home, at work or on the road?

The pace of life may be hectic, but the pace of innovation is downright frenetic. Technologies barely imagined a few years ago are now poised to change the face of computing as digital devices continue to burrow into every aspect of daily life.

The world of science fiction is rapidly becoming fact, from tabletops that charge your laptop wirelessly to wall-mounted PCs that recognise your face and gestures. Thanks to breakthroughs in miniaturisation, you'll be able to tuck products into your pocket that wouldn't have fit into your briefcase a few years ago. The next generation of internet technology will change everything from television to drinks machines.

And standard computer building blocks are growing ever more powerful, as chip makers squeeze more cores on to each processor and hard-drive makers pack more bits into each platter - guaranteeing that in the future, even ordinary PCs will be anything but.

We've highlighted a dozen major innovations - some right around the corner, others not expected until at least 2012. On multiple fronts, the future you've been waiting for has almost arrived. Here's what you need to know to prepare for it.

No more power cords

You hardly think twice about connecting your wireless laptop to the internet, but you still have to fumble for a power cord when your battery runs out. How quaint. Soon all those cumbersome power bricks will be a footnote in your grandchildren's history books, as wireless charging comes to market.

Two ways to accomplish wireless charging currently exist. Inductive charging works by matching the resonance of the charging pad's electromagnetic field to that of the battery, allowing the battery to charge over a small physical gap. In contrast, conductive charging passes electricity directly between two surfaces in contact.

t's not yet clear which method will triumph, but in either case you'll be able to simply place your laptop, phone or music player on to a universal wireless charging pad that will immediately begin juicing them up.

Next year both inductive and conductive charging technologies will emerge on to the market, but most devices will require a $30 (about £15) adaptor to work with them. WildCharge (to go to wildcharge.com click here) expects to launch its first conductive-charging notebook product (paired with a compatible notebook) in time for 2008's back-to-school season, while eCoupled (to view ecoupled.com click here) is pushing to get its inductive technology into cars, countertops and desk surfaces by 2009.

Expect wireless charging to become commonplace in 2010, after major phone and laptop vendors sign on to support it.

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No need for a cord with the eCoupled intelligent wireless power prototype, which charges consumer electronic devices wirelessly


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