These are capillary sub-irrigation Hydro-mats from Gardener's Supply. The photos are evidently meant to demonstrate their properties but this is the way to use them. Simply drop a pad into the bottom of any watertight container and you have converted it into a sub-irrigation (aka self-watering) planter.
Read through the over 50 customer reviews of the Hydro-mat and you will see that capillary mat sub-irrigation really does work.
Incidentally, I was curious about comments that the mats have a one-season life. I don't know what material they use to make the Hydro-mats but the aquapads made from polyester batting are extremely durable. You can wash them over and over again using a mild bleach solution. You might need to pull some dead roots from the pads, but that's no big deal.
As both the ASHS research report and these reader reviews prove, capillary mat sub-irrigation is a very good way to water all plants growing in containers. It is far superior to drench and drain top watering.