“The kids that are growing up in a couple of years will never have to plug anything in again to charge it.”
Wireless charging has been a tech industry’s promise for many years, but the major obstacle was the existing disagreement between two groups promoting different approaches to power transfer over distance. Finally, few days ago, the Power Matters Alliance (PMA) and the Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP) have signed a letter of intent to merge, thus paving the way for accelerated deployment of this technology. It remains to be seen what will be the third large wireless power group’s response to this situation. The Wireless Power Consortium promotes a standard named Qi, which combines principles of both resonance and inductive technology.
Nicola Tesla, a famous inventor, engineer and futurist, envisioned a world where energy can be transferred wirelessly a century ago. His Wardenclyffe Tower project for intercontinental wireless energy transmission was never finished, but on multiple occasions in New York, Colorado Springs and London, he demonstrated that such endeavor might be possible, at least on short distances.
There have been many attempts to recreate and improve Tesla’s work with new findings and new technologies, but without greater success. Prof. Dr Konstantin Meyl, the most famous aficionado of Tesla’s work today, is selling replica of his device, as a Power kit which ‘enables you to construct an energy transmission line according to Tesla’.
In 2007 a team of researchers at MIT demonstrated the possibility to wirelessly power a 60 watt light bulb at a distance of about one meter, at 90% efficiency. Based on this research, WiTricity startup built wireless “resonance” technology, a transfer of electricity via magnetic field. Transmitter and receiver are basically resonating on the same frequency, employing magnetic near field, for which the company claims to be safe and non-radiative. It opens up the possibility for a transfer of energy within a home without cables, much like wireless internet. In fact, according to Dr Katie Hall, a Chief Technology Officer at WiTricity, the technology is much like the one used in Wi-Fi routers. The company claims to have already demonstrated wireless powering of cell phones, laptops and TVs, as well as electric car refuelers. But, it doesn’t stop there. They are working with a medical company searching for a solution to recharge heart-pumps and similar medical mobile devices. At this year’s International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), taking place January 6-9 in Las Vegas, WiTricity will showcase the commercial potential of their technology, including concepts of ‘The Home of the Future’, ‘park-and- charge’ solution for electric and hybrid electric vehicles, and demo kits with which CES attendees will be able to experiment with power transfer through different materials. They are hoping to make 2015 a “Year of Wireless Power”.
“The kids that are growing up in a couple of years will never have to plug anything in again to charge it,” said Hall.