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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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By MarioJP on 9/4/2009 1:55:02 AM , Rating: 2
This is a awsome idea but its by no means without serious hurdles. this is why it has never progressed. I can explain since I dealt with magnetism and electricity alot.

1.Very poor efficiency if its air core (no iron core like a power transformer has), not to mention heat that will be generated which will results in loss of power efficiency. Take an example of power supplies and power transformers. If it overloads it will get very hot and melt. My electric induction toothbrush gets warm almost hot when it is charging and it takes quite awhile to charge.

2.Power regulation would have to be keyed to each unique device. I am guessing this could be fixed by the device's electronics regulation, and to what extent should the magnetic field's strength would be by default so the regulator can work properly??.

3. any metal object would act as a core which will degrade the field's efficiency even more because in order for the field to charge the devices, the field has to be fluctuating at a frequency which is measured in hertz, which is why we can't use the earth's magnetic field that one guy asked in this post.

This fluctuating or pulse field can cause metal objects to induce electric current in them if the frequency is too high and the field is too strong, which it would have to be to make up for the poor efficiency.

and lastly people will steal lol. Just by the inductor itself will draw alot of current so to reduce the amperage you have to really go high hertz.

Not to mention any nearby electronics that has a mini transformer in them would cause a negative side effect that can probably damage the device by inducing strong currents that was not designed for that device.

And for pacemakers this is really bad lol. High hertz equals fatal cardiac arrest. Any small electronics exposed to high resonance would not be good. So yeah there is work to be done for this to happen in a large scale.

Now what I can see happening is those magnetic pads which still would require a cord to connect to the outlet lol. At least you have a witricity in that small area though. but you still not eliminating cord factor though LOL.




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