Nanoport: Connect and charge your devices with magnets

LAS VEGAS — One of the most intriguing places to hang out on the International CES show floor is Eureka Park, where startups are given the space to pitch their ideas in tiny booths that bear no resemblance to the mega-structures that the tech titans built.

That’s where Nano Magnetics has set up shop to show off its Nanoport. The company -- better known for making super-powerful magnetic toys -- is working on a new way to charge devices and make your smartphone the control panel for everything in your life. And, while it’s still in the prototype phase, the company’s idea has the potential to really change how we use our mobile devices.

It works with magnets. When two devices with Nanoport connectors built into them link, they can transfer information, charge each other or even share their screens. So if you and some friends are sitting at an airport gate together and want to watch a movie, in a Nanoport future you could link all your phones together and treat the three screens as one. Or, if you want to share screen space from your phone to your computer, you could link them up using the magnetic ports. In fact, according to the company’s brochure, you can link up to 127 physical devices together any way that they’ll click with these ports.

If the thought of megascreens doesn’t appeal to you, there are other intriguing applications. The connectors are hinged, so you could link a small solar cell to your phone and fold it under to reduce the bulk. A company representative said you could also put the connectors on appliances, such as the “smart” stoves, ovens and refrigerators that are plentiful at the show, and use your smartphone display as the control panel instead of having to build one into the appliance itself.

With no wires and fast data transfer -- the connector has the same basic layout as a USB plug -- sending information between phones, tablets and other devices could be super quick. The company is already looking for partners and developers who can make the idea into a consumer product.

The prospects look good, at least for now. Nanoport’s representative at the booth said the company is in talks with some manufacturers to start building the technology, although he wouldn’t say who. Still, he didn’t give any indication of when that would be -- in other words, don’t hold your breath. It could be a while.

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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