Wireless power transfer for your gadgets
A preview of new technologies being developed to provide power to your electronic devices without using wires.
The following is a partial transcript; for full story, listen to audio.
As we've brought more phones, laptops and assorted gadgetry into our lives, we've gotten used to bringing along all the cords, chargers and batteries necessary to keep them powered up. But there are new technologies being developed to provide power to our electronics without the wires.
Farhad Manjoo, who covers technnology for Slate.com, says wireless power may still be a few years away from mainstream usage, but it's on the way.
"Right now the system is available just on a few devices," said Manjoo. "Wireless charging -- you can get it on the Palm Pre, a cell phone that has this adapter that you can buy for $70 and then you place the phone on this adapter and it charges up ... they don't work from very far away. But if you can get a system where you can charge something from several feet away, or even more, we'd all be liberated to go wherever we want."
Eric Giler is working to bring the technology to the public. His company, WiTricity, develops wireless electrical technology.
According to Giler, wireless power transfer was first presented by an MIT professor who was inspired by his wife's cell phone, which was keeping him awake at night because it was running out of power. "And he was thinking to himself, with all this power running around in the walls, why couldn't some of it come into his phone."
The challenge, said Giler, is developing a system that would be both safe and efficient.
He says the technology WiTricity is developing came out of MIT and utilizes what's called "highly-coupled magnetic resonance," a phenomenon in nature, "which allows to objects which are of similar resonance to be able to exchange energy with each other. And we do that using very light density magnetic fields so that's how we get it through the air without interacting with human beings, and are doing it efficiently."
Giler's company is currently demonstrating a system that would allow for an electric car to be charged without having to be plugged in to a power source.
"So you drive in, there's a mat plugged into the floor," said Giler. "The coil that's built into the mat essentially couples to one that's underneath the vehicle so people don't get anywhere near it. And it transfers about 3000 watts so that overnight, your car will charge."
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