Electricity Going Wireless

Photo by uxedRecently, Eric Giler, CEO of WiTricity Corp., revealed the technology his company is developing that will make the use of power cables and cords virtually nonexistent. Or so he hopes.

In July, Giler presented at the TEDGlobal conference in Oxford, England. He showed off an Apple iPhone and Google G1 phone that were able to charge wirelessly, as well as a commercially available television that operated sans power cables. Imagine it: a world where wires aren’t getting tangled at your feet or ugly cords aren’t draped across rooms. It’s possible, and Giler believes it can be used for technology ranging from phones to electric cars. You could drive your car into the garage and it would automatically start charging!

The technology is based on work by physicist Marin Soljačić at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and uses resonance to accomplish its goals. When two objects have the same magnetic resonance, they can exchange energy through their fields, which can then be turned into electrical power.

To accomplish energy transfer, the company uses coils that have the same resonant frequency. One coil is embedded in the wall/ceiling/floor and plugged into an electric source. The other coil is built into your device, whether it be a laptop, phone, television, etc. When the device is within range of the main coil, energy would begin to flow between the two devices automatically, and a voltage would begin to build up in the device, charging it up, no plugs or cords needed!

The technology is perfectly safe because it uses magnetic fields. Depending on the device, anywhere from milliwatts to kilowatts of power can be transferred between coils. And, it can be transferred over a range of centimeters to several meters. The energy is also transferable through most building materials (yes, it will go through the wall or ceiling) and can bend around metal objects that would otherwise block the magnetic waves.

While the idea of wireless transfer of energy has been around for a while (Nikola Tesla, an electrical and mechanical engineer who lived from 1856 to 1943, hypothesized we would one day be working electronics wirelessly), this demonstration of practical use is a huge step in the process, and this is the first time a company has unveiled plans to commercialize the technology. One day in the near future (WiTricity is saying possibly within a year and a half), we won’t have to fumble around with our power cords or desperately search for our phone chargers!

To learn more about the science behind WiTricity’s wireless powering, visit their website at www.witricity.com.

Photo by uxed.