Tired of tangled cords? Could a wireless charger be the answer?

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There are times when it may seem like we're living in the future. We have devices that we can hold in our hands and use to call up information stored in computers in enormous data centers all over the world. We can watch a film on one device, switch to another gadget and pick up right where we left off. We can automate our homes to perform tasks even if we're on the other side of the world.

But then there is always a wake-up call. Where are our jetpacks? Where are our flying cars? And what the heck are we supposed to do with all these darn cables?

That last question becomes increasingly relevant as we acquire more mobile devices. Smartphones, e-readers, tablets and portable music players are just the beginning. And each of these devices requires power to operate, which means sooner or later you'll have to charge them. That's when those cables really become an irritation.

You may have to deal with proprietary cables for multiple devices, meaning each cable will fit one -- and only one -- of your gadgets. If you aren't lucky in cable roulette, you have to keep grabbing cables until you find the right one. And if you have to recharge everything at once you've got a techno-octopus just waiting to tangle you up.

But there are ways to transmit power -- and charge devices -- without cables. There are several products on the market today that you can use to recharge a device just by setting the gadget down on a charging pad. Then, as if by magic, power transmits from the pad to the device. But it's not magic -- it's science!