Originally created 11/04/02

Techbits: Wireless rechargers, Electronic lost and found, Mauritius investment



SAN FRANCISCO -- A scourge of the gadget-happy are all those cradles and cords needed for recharging.

A few companies are working on a solution: flat pads that recharge all manner of mobile devices merely through contact. Just plunk your cell phone and PDA on the pad in the evening and they're all juiced up in the morning.

Splashpower Ltd., based in Cambridge, England, says its SplashPad system would consist of two main components: a small module for attaching to a portable rechargeable device and a pad that plugs into an electrical outlet.

Splashpower's chief executive, John Halfpenny, says the module - less than a millimeter thick - would need to be installed in the device to be charged.

"The science is electromagnetic. It's kind of like a transformer," Halfpenny said of the inductive power technology behind the SplashPad.

Devices of various voltage requirements would be able to recharge simultaneously while resting on the SplashPad, Halfpenny said.

Another company, Los Altos-based Mobilewise, Inc., expects to roll out a similar power-pad product next year.

Isaac Ro, an analyst with The Aberdeen Group, said the technology looks promising: "It seems to me that these guys have the right issues in mind: compatibility and safety."

Splashpower's technology has been demonstrated to be compliant with safety regulations and would not shock the user or demagnetize credit cards, the company said.

- Ron Harris, AP Writer.

SAN FRANCISCO -- It's an Internet version of the Lost and Found.

An online global registry run by San Leandro-based BoomerangIt Inc. starts at $10 for ten years. Clients obtain numbered identification stickers and tags for affixing to such as luggage, cell phones and laptop computers.

Once registered, users can go to BoomerangIt's Web site or call a toll-free number to report missing items. Should one ever wind up in a police station, a lost-and-found box or a pawn shop, finders can report it.

But will thieves really care if a product has a 1-inch by half-inch BoomerangIt sticker grafted to it?

"To a degree, maybe. Some crooks don't care," said Lt. Greg Ovanessian of the San Francisco Police Department, who has worked with the National Bike Registry affiliated with BoomerangIt. "If you knew that law enforcement could easily research it, that could be a deterrence."

The labels also make it harder to get rid of stolen property. Pawn shops are required to report new items to law enforcement and must wait at least 120 days before selling them, Ovanessian said.

Palm Inc. already offers BoomerangIt stickers with some products, and Toshiba started packaging BoomerangIt with all of its digital cameras in April.

- Angela Watercutter, AP Writer.

PORT LOUIS, Mauritius -- Looking for disaster-proof data storage in the tropics?

The Indian information technology firm Infosys will invest $25 million in its first disaster recovery center on this Indian Ocean island popular with tourists.

The three-year project, set to begin in January, will begin in a rented building while the company constructs a permanent facility on a 25-acre site, the company said. It will create 1,500 jobs.

Mauritius narrowly edged out Singapore for the facility, which will serve as a center for backing up critical data for Infosys's customers.

The announcement comes as the Mauritian government tries to diversify the Indian Ocean nation's economy by luring the information technology sector.

The government hopes to turn the country, which recently tapped into an undersea fiber-optic cable that links India's high-tech corridor with Europe, into a high-tech hub.

It has offered a package of fiscal incentives, including reduced corporate taxes and duty-free facilities, to prospective investors.

Infosys has also been assured visas for 1,500 expatriate staff and free work permits for expatriates during urgent disaster recovery situations.