Wireless Power

08.24.2008

A couple weeks ago I was talking with some family about technological advancements and our predictions of what the future holds.  I predicted in 20 years we would have wireless power.  What does this mean?  It means no cables and no outlets.  Free from tangles, power strips, power converters, three-pronged plugs, and restrictive tethers.  True wireless.  As you might imagine, quite a few obstacles stand in the way of wireless power, number one being how to do it without the consequences of giving birth to kids with five legs and a nose growing out the elbow.

As it turns out, just a few days ago Intel showed off its new wireless power transfer gizmo:

So what’s the difference between these odd-looking coils and previous advancements in wireless power?  As Intel’s CTO Justin Rattner put it, “It turns out the human body is not affected by magnetic fields; it is affected by elective fields.  So what we are doing is transmitting energy using the magnetic field not the electric field.”

While this is a very promising advancement and pretty exciting all around, I was slightly disappointed that most of the seminar revolved around applying the technology to supply power to laptops, mobile telephones, or other such devices.  As Rob Enderle of Enderle Group stated, “Initially it eliminates chargers and eventually it eliminates batteries all together.”

Batteries?  We’re talking about a breakthrough as big as wireless power and it will “eventually eliminate”…..batteries!?  And the CTO’s talking about technological transformations he expects by the year 2050.  I’ve got power cords and outlets covering my desktop, surrounding my entertainment center, sprawling over my kitchen and bathroom counters, and oozing out of my wazoo and we’re talking about 42 years before I can merely ditch my cell phone battery?  Here’s to hoping for a modern-day Thomas Edison!

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09.05.2008 / Brian Allred said:

I like the mental image of power cords oozing out of your wazoo. Seriously, I’ve often thought about how cool it would be to have wireless power but I’m not convinced it can be done safely. In order to transmit 110 volts across any distance greater than a few feet would require a pretty focused beam, and I would not want to stand in the way of that–magnetic field or otherwise. Also, to have something like a power station that broadcasts power in all directions would require a massive amount of energy, because most of the power would be wasted and not received by anyone.

So, while the idea is cool, I’m going to bet against it being used for anything other than replacing batteries at very short distances for at least 20 years.


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