Glass desks can help make a tiny office feel more spacious (and maybe a little sci-fi) but they also reveal things that most desks keep hidden, like a rat’s nest of power cords and sync cables. That could soon change with a new product called Power-Tap Glass that conducts both electricity and data signals without any visible wires.
Created by Cohda Design (a product development company based in the United Kingdom, and glassmaker NSG Pilkington), Power-Tap (or P-Tap, for short) Glass is actually made up of several layers of conductive and non-conductive glass sheets laminated into a single pane that still remains completely transparent, but with the added benefit that electricity can flow freely through it. So a fancy see-through desk could supply power to computers, lamps, and even charge a smartphone with just a single cable coming out of the desk’s leg plugged into an outlet that can be easily camouflaged.
It’s a neat trick, but unlike desks featuring built-in wireless chargers where you can simply plop a smartphone down to recharge it, the P-Tap Glass requires special power outlets to be installed to deliver power or data signals to connected devices. (It’s not quite as easy as just drilling a hole and jamming some wires into the void, but the layout of outlets can be fully customized as needed.) Each piece of the glass acts as a sort of big flat power cord, and the outlets tap into the various conductive layers to pass electricity onto attached devices. So it’s not true wireless power where any device resting on the glass surface draws juice, but connected devices appearing to float and work without visible wires is still a neat effect.
A desk covered in electronics is just one application for the P-Tap Glass. A kitchen could see all the granite replaced with see-through countertops with floating electric stove elements and even a flatscreen TV panel built into a glass backsplash. Aesthetically, the upgrade would probably feel incredibly dated a decade later. But for a few precious years, you’d have a kitchen that looks straight out of Tony Stark’s compound. (Before, you know, all the explosions and stuff.)
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So where can you order some P-Tap Glass for your next home makeover? The product isn’t available en masse just yet, big Cohda Design has licensed the technology to companies like Zytronic whose ElectroglaZ is expected to see availability as early as next year, if not sooner.