Innovations such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi allow us to connect to the internet, email and company networks without unsightly cables. But no matter how advanced your portable device, there is one time when you just can't be free of wires — when the battery needs charging.

All this looks set to change thanks to Splashpower's wireless charging system.

Its solution consists of two components — the SplashModule, a receiver unit which is fitted into the device, and the SplashPad which is a universal recharging platform.

The SplashModule is under 1mm thick, and can be customised to any size, shape or curve, according the company. It can be fitted into mobile devices ranging from PDAs (personal digital assistants), mobile phones, portable audio players and handheld games consoles.

The SplashPad is less than 6mm thick and plugs into any electrical outlet or can be built into any surface. Pads will be developed in a number of formats according to Splashpower, ranging from standalone devices that can be plugged in around the home or office, to built-in units that could be fitted in cars, desks, airport lounges, airline seat trays or hotel rooms.

As soon as a device fitted with a SplashModule is placed within around 1cm of a SplashPad it will automatically start to recharge. There is no need for the two to be connected in any way, and they don't even have to be in direct contact according to Splashpower.

John Halfpenny, CEO of Splashpower, says this lack of contact gives makers far more flexibility when it comes to design: "In theory the pad could by furry, or velour or have any texture," the company is already in talks with other manufacturers regarding branding the pads.

Splashpower says that multiple devices can be charged from a single pad with no decrease in charging time, and that recharge times are the same as with conventional methods. The device conforms to worldwide safety standards, and Splashpower says there is no danger of shocks from the Pad or Module.

It is currently in talks with several manufacturers of mobile devices, ranging from handsets and handhelds to portable games devices, and expects to see the first products to use the Splashpower charging system on the shelves from mid 2003.

The Module can be fitted as an add-on to a portable device, and Halfpenny anticipates that these will be the first types of product to go on sale.

Pricing will be set by manufacturers, but Halfpenny says "Splashpower enabling a device is not going to be a big cost penalty, certainly not for PDAs, handsets or games devices".