March 14, 2014

power lines

Are electrical wires on the fast track to extinction? Credit: Michael Kappel / Flickr Creative Commons

Guests:

Have you ever had the battery on your phone, computer, or tablet die just when you most needed it? Well, imagine tossing your dead cell phone on a coffee table and coming back to a fully-charged device a couple of hours later. 

WiTricity CEO Eric Giler says that in the house of the future, electronics will be able to charge wirelessly. Giler sees a future in which “anything with a cord or a disposable battery is a candidate for getting replaced.” 

Here's how it works. An electrical charger - the size of a soda can - is plugged into the wall and creates a magnetic field that bounces between two coils, allowing power to jump from one location to another. Copper coils are placed under carpets, tables, and lamp bases, and when power lands on one of the coils, it transmits again.  

This technology goes far beyond the home. For example, since power lines already run beside streets and highways, having coils every several hundred feet would mean that cars themselves may not need batteries - or could use much smaller batteries. This would reduce the costs of electric cars, making them more affordable.

While gaining widespread acceptance will take time and require buy-in from many companies - from Apple to Starbucks to Ford - wireless charging could free us from an increasingly tangled world.

wireless, electricity, technology, WiTricity, Sci and Tech

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