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It's not voodoo -- Intel's just showing off its wireless power transmission system at its IDF conference. The system could be worked into Intel's upcoming chipsets.  (Source:
Intel rounds off its developers forum with a wild new upcoming tech

Wireless is one of those hot tech catch-alls of the new millennium.  There's wireless broadcasters and receivers, utilizing such technology as WiMax, 802.11n, and Bluetooth.  There's wireless gaming controllers.  There's just about wireless everything -- except power transmission.

Wireless power transmission is something that inventor Nikolai Tesla came up with over a century ago and claimed to have perfected.  However, his mysterious work vanished with his death, and for decades the topic was left untouched.  Now there has been a resurgence in interest with several companies competing to becoming the first to offer commercially broadcast wireless power.

At the Intel Developers Forum (IDF) this month, Intel demoed just such a system.  Using two large coils it showcased a system that could send 60 watts of power at 75 percent efficiency up to 3 feet.  The power was enough to light up a bulb at the receiving end.

Justin Rattner, Intel’s chief technology officer describes, "Something like this technology could be embedded in tables and work surfaces, so as soon as you put down an appropriately equipped device it would immediately begin drawing power."

A computer-powering desk is just what Intel is cooking up in fact.  It says a desk with embedded transmission equipment could power laptops and eliminate the need for messy cables and proprietary connectors.

The new tech was first developed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology physicist Marin Soljacic.  Professor Soljacic came up with the idea of transmitting wireless power via resonant magnetic fields.  He calls the invention WiTricity, a blend of the words wireless and electricity.  The work relies heavily on the electric concept of induction.  Induction is already used commercially on a limited scale, to recharge certain powered toothbrushes.

Intel helped improve upon MIT's design, bringing the efficiency up from 50 percent to 75 percent.  Internally, Intel is speculating that the device may permit and work with the shift from batteries to supercapacitors.  While currently more expensive, supercapacitors could allow faster recharging. Mr. Rattner states, "In the future, your kitchen counters might do it.  You’d just drop your espresso maker down on them and you would never have to plug it in."

Intel calls its new technology a "wireless resonant energy link".  It uses transmitting loop antennas, less than 2 feet in diameter.

It is competing with a couple scrappy startups, who are also looking to improve upon MIT's technology.  Startups WildCharge, based in Boulder, Colo., and WiPower, based in Altamonte Springs, Fla. both are looking to make their name in wireless power history.  While both have announced consumer devices based on their upcoming technologies, their devices currently require the item to be touching the transmitter.

The advantage of Intel's device is it can transmit power even when not in contact.  And the receiver antenna is about the size of a laptop base, Intel researchers note.  Joshua R. Smith, an Intel researcher at a company laboratory in Seattle who is leading the project, states, "From Intel’s position that seems like the thing to shoot for right now.  It could be that cellphones and P.D.A.’s are even more compelling, but I think we are going to start with the laptop. It’s easy to dial down from laptops."

Mr. Smith also demoed how the technology could improve the field of robotics.  Sensors using the power transmission and reception technologies could use electric fields to detect objects, similar to how some fish detect objects in water.  In a demo the robot used these sensors to neatly grasp an apple, which it then loyally delivered to a waiting human hand.

Intel, according to Mr. Smith, will be developing a prototype of transmission system for laptops, which may be added to upcoming chipsets.  Thus, the next generation of laptops may be cord free.

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By Sanity on 8/22/2008 9:58:20 AM , Rating: 2
I have no idea how this actually works, but I wonder if it's going to be anything like living under power lines. Supposedly bad for your health and all.

RE: So...
By jjunos on 8/22/2008 10:45:25 AM , Rating: 2
While personally, I think there is no way living under a power line can be healthy for you, the debate is still very much in the air.

There have been a ton of studies that go on one side to the other. Snopes had a good thread on this, and this was a pretty good article:

RE: So...
By Alexstarfire on 8/22/2008 12:48:24 PM , Rating: 2
I'd live under a power line just to prove you guys wrong. Though... I think I'd fear for my electronics.

RE: So...
By MrBlastman on 8/22/2008 12:50:27 PM , Rating: 3
Just buy yourself a Tri-Band detector and go take a reading under some high tension lines. It is AMAZING how much ambient electromagnetic radiation is in the air around those. Of course, it is unavoidable given the mode of transport.

You could harness it if you want... The power company might not be happy if they found out - but - you could tell em' - hey, it was floating around in the air, I just captured it!

No, after taking a reading under lines like this, I wouldn't want to live under them nor right next to them.

RE: So...
By paydirt on 8/22/2008 3:51:13 PM , Rating: 2
The super high power lines really unnerve me, especially when I walk under them. I hate the power lines that you can hear "humming". I find it very unsettling. I know I wouldn't be shocked, just felt like it couldn't be good for my body. If Tesla power became mainstream, I worry that it would make everyone go haywire.

RE: So...
By rudolphna on 8/22/2008 10:03:01 PM , Rating: 2
yes. Has anyone heard of EMF? Or electro-magnetic field? If you dont know, they can be very bad for your mental health. Basically, it screws with your mind, if you are subjected to high EMF, from something like a leaky wire, a bad switch, a bad fan motor etc in your home, you can get feelings of being watched, hearing things, seeing things, being uncomfortable. Many "paranormal" sensations can in reality be found the fault of high EMF in that area.

RE: So...
By Jimbo1234 on 8/22/2008 1:37:33 PM , Rating: 5
Induction current. It's Physics 101.

This is how farmers used to steal electricity years ago. They ran a power line for their equipment parallel to the utility line.

Put a pot on the coil and you can cook your food too. There already exist induction ranges for cooking surfaces. You just need to use a resistive metal pan like steel or aluminum.

Induction furnaces have been used in industry for years and years.

That's the only drawback I can see with this. Heat. If you have such a coil on a desk or table, do not put any metal objects on it or else they will get very very hot.

GM also used induction for charging the Impact / EV1 with the "paddle."

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