Light-up cereal boxes powered by shelves on display at CES

Jan 11, 2011 by Lisa Zyga weblog
On display at CES, boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios light up in various places, powered by the shelves they sit on. Image credit: Oh Gizmo.

(PhysOrg.com) -- Cereal boxes with blinking lights may or may not be the next big thing, but the underlying technology could prove useful for many other potential applications. At the recent CES in Las Vegas, Fulton Innovation displayed its light-up boxes of General Mills' Honey Nut Cheerios and Trix cereals, which are wirelessly charged by the shelves they sit on.

The technology behind the luminous cereal boxes is called eCoupled, which uses inductive coupling to transform tabletops, shelves, and even parking lots into sources for battery-powered devices. The surfaces are equipped with a primary transmission coil, which can provide power for multiple devices equipped with secondary receiving coils.

The devices go beyond cereal boxes to kitchen blenders, smartphones, ebook readers, laptops, , and more. Instead of plugging these devices into an electric outlet, you could power them by simply placing them on a surface equipped with the eCoupled technology (or in the case of the electric vehicles, driving onto an eCoupled ).

At CES, Fulton Innovation demonstrated how the technology could be used to make a “self-heating” can of soup. The soup can had a heating coil built into the packaging. When placed on an eCoupled surface and an “on” button is pressed on the packaging, the soup would heat up and a light would turn on when it was ready.

The technology could also be used to communicate data from various devices to a smartphone. For example, a frying pan could alert you when your food is simmering. Or when you’re at the grocery store, you could use your phone to check how much milk you have left in your refrigerator.

Even if the light-up cereal boxes never take off, the same technology could be attractive for manufacturers as a way to wirelessly track quantities and expiration dates, or for stores to wirelessly manage inventory. Also, battery-powered toys could be charged by the shelves they sit on, so their power would never run down.

As demonstrated at CES, Fulton Innovation says that the technology is all there. The challenge now is to standardize the technology, and then sell it to stores. In 2008, Fulton Innovation helped found the Wireless Power Consortium, which is developing the international standard for wireless charging, called Qi (pronounced “chee”). With this universal standard in place, the company hopes that commercialization will soon follow.

Explore further: Government wants to make cars talk to each other (Update)

More information: Fulton Innovation and ecoupled.com
via: Pocket-lint

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User comments : 21

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gwrede
4.6 / 5 (9) Jan 11, 2011
Does this mean that after a while, every aisle in the supermarket will blink, flash and beep in a frenzy for my attention? I'd hate it. And the more sensitive will probably have a seizure.

What next? Tentacles grabbing my arm? Horror!

And how long can I survive if every surface in my home is converted into an inductive recharger strong enough to power a blender or laptop? Gotta be much worse than living under a power line.
Mira_Musiclab
5 / 5 (3) Jan 11, 2011
"Mommy, can I have the blinky tooth-rot? Plz, plz"

And just what we need, more chems in our packaging..
Quantum_Conundrum
4.6 / 5 (9) Jan 11, 2011
Wh en I first read this article I was outraged at the sheer stupidity and degree of waste.

As if we aren't already wasting enough stuff in the modern capitalistic, consumeristic society, now we'll be throwing away electronic devices even more and more.
Quantum_Conundrum
4.4 / 5 (7) Jan 11, 2011
I can see it now. The box at the grocery store will proclaim propaganda to children as they walk down the aisle with their parents.

"Buy Me! I'm healthy!"

"If you love your children you will buy me!"

"Tell your mother to buy me!"

"Hey, little boy, let's be friends. I'd sure like it if you could convince your parents to buy me! Thanks. I love you!"
PieRSquare
5 / 5 (1) Jan 11, 2011
Reminds me of "Pine & Oats" cereal box from Minority Report
Moebius
4.3 / 5 (6) Jan 11, 2011
This is illustrative of the problem with a free market and the packaging industry. Instead of trying to reduce the content of packaging the market incentive for packaging manufacturers and their customers is to increase it if that will increase sales. Is it environmentally responsible to make increasingly complex and less recyclable packaging?

A good example is a toothbrush. Compare the tooth brushes on the shelves today to the ones available 20 years ago. This is a disposable item. Yet instead of becoming more environmentally responsible by reducing and simplifying their content, they have become ever more complex with more plastic and more kinds of plastic.

If that new cereal packaging gets to market I hope the cereal has a sugar content of at least 90% so it will slowly kill anyone who buys it. There shouldn't even be ink on packaging, let alone lights.
physpuppy
3.8 / 5 (5) Jan 11, 2011
While I agree with many of the sentiments expressed here, it's up to the consumer to accept it or not by two methods:

Either don't buy the fattening-tooth-rot in blinky light boxes
or
write to the company about how much you love the fattening-tooth-rot but you oppose the new packing for {reasons stated by others here}

Now of course, those here who are for minimal packaging - if you buy ready-to-eat cereal, do you buy the boxed or do you buy the ones they sell in bags?

Mira_Musiclab
5 / 5 (3) Jan 11, 2011
In the Bulk-bins whever possible. Tends to be less expensive anyways.

But yeah, this culture is pretty weird. We seem to have a requirement to be 'entertained' by our food and commestibles.

It's food... Just eat it
Quantum_Conundrum
3 / 5 (4) Jan 11, 2011
We seem to have a requirement to be 'entertained' by our food and commestibles.


Actually, we don't.

They've just been doing it to us for our entire lives. "We" had nothing to do with the propaganda that has been an is being fed to us. It's just we don't have any choice in the matter anyway, since almost everything available for purchase fits into this category.

Every product is propagandized and hyped through the roof. Everything claims to be the best, etc.

As I've said elswhere, our civilization is based on lying and screwing over one another as much as possible.
Graeme
1.5 / 5 (2) Jan 11, 2011
It would be simpler to do this with fluorescent pigments and blinking UV lamps on the shelves. The UV lamps could be different wavelengths lighting up different pigments.
Lord_jag
5 / 5 (2) Jan 11, 2011
It would be simpler to do this with fluorescent pigments and blinking UV lamps on the shelves. The UV lamps could be different wavelengths lighting up different pigments.

Yes that will make the food extra tasty. And when recycled, I'm sure it will rub right off before its turned into mulch ..
Jeswin
1 / 5 (1) Jan 12, 2011
Obviously the use of cereal boxes flashing on and off will not take off but it is the mere fact of the technology behind this that is most intriguing. Certainly this technology will go a long way!
rgharakh
5 / 5 (3) Jan 12, 2011
So instead of selling the cereal for cheaper I have to pay more for the company to put this stupid idea on every cereal box. Makes sense...

Also, think about how much ink we waste by colorizing all these disposable products. Thats always fascinated me.
Moebius
1 / 5 (1) Jan 12, 2011
If we had any freaking common sense whatsoever all packaging would be as simple as possible with no more ink on it than required to label it with its name and contents. Put all the flashy graphics, ads and hype on the shelf holding it. But we don't have any common sense. And don't think that the ink on packaging isn't an environmental problem all it's own because it is and it's almost completely unnecessary.
Moebius
1 / 5 (1) Jan 12, 2011
While I agree with many of the sentiments expressed here, it's up to the consumer to accept it or not by two methods:

Either don't buy the fattening-tooth-rot in blinky light boxes
or
write to the company about how much you love the fattening-tooth-rot but you oppose the new packing for {reasons stated by others here}

Now of course, those here who are for minimal packaging - if you buy ready-to-eat cereal, do you buy the boxed or do you buy the ones they sell in bags?


You are completely clueless. We have the problems with waste now because IT IS LEFT UP TO THE CONSUMERS and free market principles.
PS3
3.7 / 5 (3) Jan 12, 2011
So instead of selling the cereal for cheaper I have to pay more for the company to put this stupid idea on every cereal box. Makes sense...

Also, think about how much ink we waste by colorizing all these disposable products. Thats always fascinated me.

Walmart has it right.Their generic brand food called Great Value uses nothing but a plain white box to help bring cost down,but I can guarantee the food is directly comparable to if not better for way cheaper.
Quantum_Conundrum
1 / 5 (1) Jan 15, 2011
Walmart has it right.Their generic brand food called Great Value uses nothing but a plain white box to help bring cost down,but I can guarantee the food is directly comparable to if not better for way cheaper.


There are a lot of "cheap" brands which actually end up being better than the "big name" company.
Rohitasch
not rated yet Jan 16, 2011
What a fracking waste of electricity!
antialias
not rated yet Jan 17, 2011
Does this mean that after a while, every aisle in the supermarket will blink, flash and beep in a frenzy for my attention?


When that happens I'll start to do my shopping online.
Royale
not rated yet Jan 17, 2011
Online, with an adblocker.
rychyrd
not rated yet Jan 17, 2011
I wish each box had an OLED screen playing their own tv commercials on a loop. That would be flipping sweet. (Of course, that part of the packaging I wouldn't be throwing away.)
Maybe that's the secret. Instead of making the packaging so bland because it is going to be thrown away, make it something we can use so that it doesn't get thrown away. Make the boxes out of solar cell panels, and have it modular so that the more cereal you buy, the more solar panel boxes you can hook up on your roof. Or start installing those tubes like at the bank, so when you buy groceries, they can be stored in re-usable cannisters which you send back to the store through the tube when it's empty.