We just saw a presentation by Moixa Energy of its USB-enabled batteries --rechargables with a built-in USB connector that lets you charge them by plugging them into a PC's USB port.
Moixa's CEO came on stage with a tangle of power cords, touting USBCell as an antidote to road warriors' overloaded briefcases full of bricks and adapters. I'm not sure about that. For one thing, the only USBCells currently available are AAs--I don't know about you, but even though I typically travel with a notebook, a phone, a camera, an MP3 player, and a travel router, none of them take AAs. And those devices that do take AAs sometimes take a bunch of them--while notebooks often only have a couple of USB ports.
Moixa is working on 9V USB batteries (I'm not sure when I last traveled with anything that takes a 9-volt). But they also told us about something that could be cool and widely useful--cell-phone batteries with USB connectors for charging. Even that seems like less than a breakthrough given that you can already buy a USB cable that'll let you recharge your phone's battery without removing it.
Moixa is also touting the fact that inserting one of its batteries could cause your PC to display a reminder to buy more batteries, or take you to the Web site of one of its partners. Um, that doesn't sound like a selling point to me...
Hey, I'm sold on using USB to recharge stuff--that's how I keep my Treo and iPod powered when I'm on the road. And I like clever uses of USB (I swear by SanDisk's remarkably inventive USB-ready SD cards). But I don't think I need any of Moixa's currently-announced products. If you've got AA-powered gadgets, your mileage may vary.