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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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Tesla's idea
By Regected on 9/3/2009 10:17:20 AM , Rating: 2
It's been almost 100 years since the mainstream power conglomerates shut down Tesla's wireless power transmition research. They did not like the idea of changing the way customers were charged for electricity. Wireless power means a community would have to be billed as a whole rather than being able to bill each point of use. Had they not shut him down, we might all be driving electric cars today, without the need for bulky batteries. Just another example of big business keeping society from progressing.

While this announcement is far from earth moving, it is moving in a right direction. They don't want to power large areas with their technology, but eliminate the need for cords and batteries around the house. Imagine not having to recharge a remote controlled car while playing with it, or never having to plug in your laptop. Batteries for remotes would be a thing of the past.

I wonder exactly what new technology these guys have come up with. Sympathetic resonance and fractal antennas have been well established. Strong magnetic coupling would interfere with normal integrated circuit operation. This has been show with the high failure rate of Wii wands using the connectionless recharging systems.




RE: Tesla's idea
By acase on 9/3/2009 10:49:11 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
This has been show with the high failure rate of Wii wands using the connectionless recharging systems.


Crap, those don't work? We just registered for one of those for a wedding present.


RE: Tesla's idea
By Regected on 9/3/2009 2:51:07 PM , Rating: 2
They work, but the electromagnetic field used to recharge the batteries can cause premature failure in the wand's integrated circuits. Proper shielding would solve this problem, but the Wii wand was not designed for such use. You'll have charged batteries, but will eventually fry the wand.

On a side note, most of the connectionless rechargers require you to remove the motion plus attachment from the wand prior to charging. Since the motion plus is attached to the jacket, you are already stripped down and ready to use a normal charger.


RE: Tesla's idea
By 91TTZ on 9/3/2009 5:20:49 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
It's been almost 100 years since the mainstream power conglomerates shut down Tesla's wireless power transmition research. They did not like the idea of changing the way customers were charged for electricity. Wireless power means a community would have to be billed as a whole rather than being able to bill each point of use. Had they not shut him down, we might all be driving electric cars today, without the need for bulky batteries. Just another example of big business keeping society from progressing


Ugh. PLEASE stop believing this crap. Why don't you learn something instead of subscribing to idiotic conspiracy theories.


RE: Tesla's idea
By InfantryRocks on 9/3/2009 7:23:47 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Just another example of big business keeping society from progressing.


Yep, businesses have never developed anything useful, they just keep holding us back!

Fight the power! Redistribute it all! Free Mumia!


"You can bet that Sony built a long-term business plan about being successful in Japan and that business plan is crumbling." -- Peter Moore, 24 hours before his Microsoft resignation














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