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Power pads, which use magnetic induction, are already on the market, like the Palm Pre's chargin Touchstone, shown here. They only work over short distances, though, and require custom form factors.  (Source: Wojianfe.net)

Witricity uses magnetically couple resonance to transmit power over longer distances, as shown here. The company's CEO predicts the company's technology will be ubiquitous within five years. However, health concerns about the powerful magnet fields it uses remain.  (Source: Business Unusual)
Company believes that computers, phones, and EVs will within 5 years be operating without cords

You can't fault WiTricity for its ambition.  As one of several companies looking to market emerging wireless power transmission technologies, WiTricity is making some of the boldest claims.  Among the claims made by the company -- that within a year wireless power will be taking the mobile electronics industry by storm.

The concept of wireless power transmission is a relatively old one.  In the 1890s, Nikolai Tesla was successful in illuminating incandescent light bulbs with wirelessly transmitted power.  However, for decades this research lay dormant and untouched.

With modern telecommunications and interest in signals at an all time high, interest in the topic again picked up.  The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in particular, developed some intriguing technology that WiTricity would later be founded upon.

Eric Giler, CEO of WiTricity says that power transmission over several feet is an obtainable feat.  He states, "Five years from now, this will seem completely normal.  The biggest effect of wireless power is attacking that huge energy wasting that goes on where people buy disposable batteries.  [And] Electric cars [are] absolutely gorgeous, but does anyone really want to plug them in?"

WiTricity isn't the only player in this new market, though.  Several key technologies, each championed by different companies, are emerging.

One is radio power.  Though only able to transmit small amounts of power, this approach can work over a long distance.  A Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, company called Powercast is among the pioneers in this field, using its technology to power temperature sensors in large office buildings and to power wireless Christmas trees (sold for $400 a piece).  The company has lit up an LED with radio signals from 1.5 miles away.

Another approach is power pads.  Advantages include low costs and relatively high efficiencies.  Disadvantages include the extremely short distance and need for custom shapes and sizes of pads.  This technology currently is employed in the Palm Pre's recharging stone and in electric toothbrush recharging stands.

WiTricity's technology works on a third type of transmission -- magnetically coupled resonance.  Similar to sound waves, the transmission creates a magnetic field, that devices can convert locally to electricity.  This technology enjoys a middle ground with a bit worse efficiency, a bit longer distance, and moderate costs.  Intel is also working on a more efficient version of this approach.

Despite WiTricity's optimism about its new approach, challenges remain.  A full deployment is estimated to possibly create a magnetic field as strong as the Earth's own magnetic field.  According to recent research, referenced by Menno Treffers, chairman of the steering group at the Wireless Power Consortium, such a strong magnetic field can cause serious health risks.



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Has 'free' power come at last for some?
By cornelius785 on 9/3/2009 9:55:09 AM , Rating: 3
By 'free', I mean 'free to me cause I set up a receiver to steal power from my neighbor'.

Have they addressed this a scenario like this? It probably wouldn't work when the transmitter and receiver are located in different buildings, but probably would work for an apartment building. For various reasons, I'm staying away from this wireless electricity thing.




RE: Has 'free' power come at last for some?
By chrnochime on 9/3/2009 9:59:30 AM , Rating: 1
You won't be able to stay away from this once your neighbor decides to have a set rigged up and you walk through the magnetic fields that form between the two huge-ass magnets.

And people wonder why we get all these weird diseases that didn't exist even 100 year back...


RE: Has 'free' power come at last for some?
By acase on 9/3/09, Rating: 0
By Tsuwamono on 9/3/2009 11:58:16 AM , Rating: 2
Evolution of earth? explain that for me please.


RE: Has 'free' power come at last for some?
By FITCamaro on 9/3/2009 12:12:37 PM , Rating: 2
Evolution is a process that takes tens of thousands of years.

New diseases come from mutations of other diseases. I guess you could call this evolution of diseases, but I don't think science typically does. I could be wrong though.


RE: Has 'free' power come at last for some?
By drmo on 9/3/2009 12:57:36 PM , Rating: 2
"Evolution is a process that takes tens of thousands of years."

That's not true. Evolution can refer to processes that take thousands of years, but I think you are thinking of speciation. Evolution (mutation) happens on a much smaller scale, in a much shorter period of time in the HIV genome within an individual person, producing new strains of the virus that can evade the host immune system (natural selection). Evolution occurs in bacteria in a relatively short period of time when we select for antibiotic resistant bacteria, or new enzymes develop that can metabolize previously unknown compounds.

For bacteria, a generation (cell division) may be 30 minutes, so over 500,000 generations could occur in 30 years. That would be over 5 million years in human evolution (assuming at least 10 years per generation).


RE: Has 'free' power come at last for some?
By foolsgambit11 on 9/4/2009 2:29:11 AM , Rating: 2
Exactly. People frequently conflate speciation and and evolution. So much so that the term 'micro-evolution' has sprung up to refer to the kinds of small scale mutations and that allow a portion of a species' population to have new traits (among other uses of the term).

Have scientists done any artificial speciation experiments? I mean, homo sapiens are only about 200,000 years old, so in a matter of years you could theoretically produce speciation in bacteria, and maybe even in insects. Of course, with the definition of species being so loose, there would always be room for debate unless two populations of once identical lifeforms (which reproduce sexually) could no longer produce viable offspring.


By osalcido on 9/7/2009 4:30:40 AM , Rating: 2
Species refers to higher lifeforms than bacteria. The term you're looking for is "strain", and yes, scientists are always engineering new strains of bacteria.

Now, on the other hand, new species of plants can be produced with just a few cross-breedings within a couple of generations.


By geddarkstorm on 9/3/2009 2:58:56 PM , Rating: 3
And better reporting, classification, and more permeated health care everywhere verses 100 years ago. That's really the reason more than anything. Rates only seem to go up if you're simply noticing what was once overlooked.


RE: Has 'free' power come at last for some?
By drmo on 9/3/2009 12:18:26 PM , Rating: 2
"And people wonder why we get all these weird diseases that didn't exist even 100 year back... "

I'm not sure what you are refering to... The only infectious disease I can think of that didn't exist 100 years ago is AIDS (in humans). Some toxicities, such as radiation posioning became much more common, and obviously chemical toxicities from new chemicals couln't have existed before the chemicals were invented.


RE: Has 'free' power come at last for some?
By radializer on 9/3/2009 5:36:21 PM , Rating: 2
And how do we even know that AIDS didn't exist 100 years ago? Maybe people were dying of it but they just didn't know it...


By drmo on 9/3/2009 6:31:39 PM , Rating: 2
Genetic evidence based on mutation rates from the Simian Immunodeficiency Virus from which HIV has been shown to be derived. It is possible that HIV is older, but genetic tests suggest otherwise.


RE: Has 'free' power come at last for some?
By Fritzr on 9/4/2009 5:58:29 AM , Rating: 3
Actually it is now believed to have been around for about 100 years. Apparently researchers have used the "DNA clock" to date the earliest form of HIV to about 1908. It is a mutation of an SIV strain that has been dated to about 1492. Hard to say exactly how accurate those numbers are, but the estimated dates are based on the observed rate of change in the genome. On such recent dates they are likely to be fairly close to the actual date that the new form was first seen.

It wasn't identified by science and named until 1982, but things can actually exist without being known to scientists :)


By drmo on 9/4/2009 9:32:35 AM , Rating: 3
Yes, I think that is what I said. It is possible that the SIV strain was circulating in people earlier, but as far as we know, there was no HIV/SIV-associated AIDS then. It is quite possible that the virus didn't become pathogenic until much later as well (we don't know).

For the dates reference:

http://www.ploscompbiol.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F1...


By djcameron on 9/3/2009 12:31:01 PM , Rating: 3
They probably existed, but the doctors hadn't classified them.


By Graviton on 9/3/2009 8:14:19 PM , Rating: 3
Hey your neighbor deserves it if they left their wireless power security turned off. =P


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