Spotted a fascinating article in this week's 50th Anniversary edition of New Scientist magazine (essential reading for anyone interested in what's what in the wider science & technology arena btw).
A group of scientists at MIT are apparently working on something called "evanescent coupling", which, if I understand it correctly, involves switching magnetic and electric fields in a set of two matched and "resonant" copper rings. Powering up one of these induces current in the other - useful if the first is attached to mains electricity, for example. Now, although I have a physics degree, I have to confess that electromagnetism was one of my least-favourite parts of the subject, so I'll have to take a lot of this on faith.
The practical upshot is that it might be possible to "remotely" charge a wireless device at a distance of up to 5 metres. Could be rather useful for the mobile industry, methinks.....
Of course, actually putting this into commercial use is an awful long way off - the MIT guys are still at the stage of computer simulation of all of this, and are apparently now trying to build a prototype.
Sidenote: I spoke to a company called SplashPower with a charging "pad" which could transfer power to phones & other devices at a very short range, like an electric toothbrush, about 3 years ago. It used a sort of induction loop thing attached to the battery. Still seems to be around but I haven't seen much in the way of real-world products.