SUPA pulls the plug on table lamps


August 9, 2013

Fraunhofer's cordless SUPA lamps are powered by a circuit board mounted beneath the tabletop

Fraunhofer's cordless SUPA lamps are powered by a circuit board mounted beneath the tabletop

If you don’t like the way that the power cords run from your table lamps to the wall outlet, looking messy and waiting to trip passers-by, then you might like SUPA. Standing for Smart Universal Power Antenna, the SUPA wireless system incorporates cordless lamps that receive their power by induction from a printed circuit board located on the underside of the tabletop.

The technology is being developed by Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Electronic Nano Systems and the University of Paderborn, along with four industrial partners.

The circuit board used in the system features a network of electromagnetic coils, each one acting as a transmitting antenna. When one of the SUPA lamps is placed on the table, receiving coils in that lamp are able to convert the board’s emitted magnetic fields into electricity – it’s not unlike the system used by Korea’s OLEV buses, or Fujitsu’s wireless monitor.

In the same way that the roads in Korea aren’t constantly subjecting everyone on and around them to electromagnetic radiation, however, the SUPA board also only transmits when a lamp is placed above it, and only through that area of the tabletop. It does so by detecting the receiving coils within the lamp, although the scientists are also developing a system that will allow the board and lamp to “speak” to one another. By doing so, the board could check that the lamp is entitled to receive energy from it, and then ascertain how much energy it needs.

SUPA could additionally be used to power items such as smartphones and laptops placed upon the tabletop, plus it could even be adapted to transmit data.

The first SUPA lamps and printed circuit boards are expected to be commercially available by the end of next year. The boards will be made in multiple sizes, so they can be used on a wide variety of existing tables.

Source: Fraunhofer

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

Unless there is a battery under the table or an outlet on the floor the cord is still a trip hazard. If there is a battery why bother with the EM fields?


So where are the table lamps? All I see are faintly glowing bricks.

Brian Mcc

Easy fix for that one Slowburn... the floor is wired the same !

Bernard Howard

I agree with Brian Mcc - Possibly good for using as nightlights, in a hall or bedroom, but I also have worries about heat buildup in the coils.

The Skud

I am not particularly worried about EM fields but I found that carrying a powerful magnet in my pocket with the wrong pole against my leg caused pain that went away when I turned the magnet over. I would either use floor lamps, or hang the light from a cord stretched across the ceiling; 2 screw extending posts with a rubber pad on both ends and a tight wire is not difficult to do. One could also shine a tightly focused beam of light into a diffuser.

re; The Skud

Just plug the nightlight into an outlet or get an ultra bright glow in the dark panel.


Get rid of the screws on each side you engineers.


Lewis Dickens

How do you power the circuit board under the table top? If you can bring power up to that point would it not make sense and be a whole lot cheaper to just provide a socket for plugging in the lamp?

Maybe a decade ago a false ceiling was the rage of architects. Later came false flooring. Electrical wiring is laid under this floor and can be broken out at any point in the room.

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