Inductive charging, which has been around for years, is typically used to charge small items such as cell phones, media players, and electric toothbrushes. While companies such as Volvo (electric roadways) and Nissan (electric car charging) work to develop the technology on a grand scale Bosch developed a medium-scale inductive charging product, 18-volt batteries that can be charged without removing them from the tool or plugging them in. The system will be introduced in Europe in the fall of 2014 and include a charger, docking frame, and wireless compatible 2.0 Ah lithium-ion battery. The charger only works with wireless compatible batteries, which are themselves compatible with any Bosch 18-volt lithium-ion tool.
Charging occurs whenever the battery is on the charger. The charger emits a magnetic field that is received by the battery and converted to charge current. According to the manufacturer, a second battery pack is no longer necessary because the first one will always be charged. If the battery does become depleted—through heavy use or lack of time on the charger—it can be swapped out for any pack that fits the tool. Charging time is said to be comparable to that of conventional chargers and there should be less wear and tear to tool and battery contacts because the pack is rarely if ever removed.
My take: This advance in technology should benefit those who work from fixed locations, like the bench in a cabinet shop or an assembly station in a factory. For those people, it will be a simple matter to place the battery on the charger whenever the tool is not in use so the pack will likely always be charged. With less concern that the battery will be discharged they can get away with using smaller lighter packs, which should increase efficiency and lower the wear and tear on their bodies. Unfortunately, these benefits are not equally applicable to every trade; for tradesmen who move around the jobsite it may not be practical to place the tool on the charger between uses.
Bosch has not released information on pricing or whether it plans to sell the system in the U.S. market. But unless the systems bombs in Europe, I would expect it to someday make it here.