Software Development

MIT's new WiTricity could eliminate power cords, and even batteries


Juggling multiple incompatible batteries and power adapters is one of the major headaches we have to deal with when we carry phones, laptops, digital cameras, and other computing and electronics devices. However, MIT researchers think they've found a way to effectively deal with that problem using a new technology for wirelessly delivering electricity.

MIT logoThe MIT scientists demonstrated this by lighting up a 60-watt light bulb using a power source that was seven feet away, as reported in the June 7 edition of the journal Science. The science behind the technology is called coupled magnetic resonance, and the MIT team has dubbed the technology "WiTricity."

The project is led by MIT professor Marin Soljacic, who woke up in the middle of the night a few years ago to find his cell phone out of power on the kitchen counter.

"It was probably the sixth time that month that I was awakened by my cell phone beeping to let me know that I had forgotten to charge it," Soljacic said. "It occurred to me that it would be so great if the thing took care of its own charging."

Professor Peter Fisher, who is also working on the project, envisions a scenario for laptops to work more efficiently:

"As long as the laptop is in a room equipped with a source of such wireless power, it would charge automatically, without having to be plugged in. In fact, it would not even need a battery to operate inside of such a room."

To read more about WiTricity, take a look at these links:

It's also important to note that a company called PowerCast has developed an alternate form of wireless power that already has FCC approval for commercial use. PowerCast won a CNET Best of CES 2007 award in the Emerging Tech category.

Are you ready to reduce your reliance on power cords and batteries? Which technology do you think has more potential, PowerCast or WiTricity? Join the discussion.

About

Jason Hiner is Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He writes about the people, products, and ideas changing how we live and work in the 21st century. He's co-author of the upcoming book, Follow the Geeks (bit.ly/ftgeeks).

16 comments
saggy530
saggy530

britain eyewitness great guide travelspain travel tourismcanada sears travelall inclusive travel packageindia travel guide

pmwpaul
pmwpaul

This sounds like a great idea for automobiles also. If we had a stable road with these, we could take advantage of non-gasoline generated electricity. Sounds like a really BIG movement forward!

viruser
viruser

Any idea when this technology will be out for retail?

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

I wrote about the fact that MIT's WiTricity is aiming to reduce or eliminate the need for power cords and batteries: http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/hiner/?p=508 Of course, most devices will probably still need batteries for remote roaming, but these wireless power technologies could increase battery life and reduce constant charging. What do you think?

saggy530
saggy530

I am just thinking how easy life would be without wires.......... well an interesting stuff but thinking about its mechanism......

catseverywhere
catseverywhere

Tesla in fact did far more than this. He powered an electric car, up to 80 MPH. This with a low power device on the track. From a 'global' transmitter in the upper mid west he torched a facility in Colorado and another in India. Unsure if these were due faulty ground, bad load control, etc. Apparently there was no RF involved, all static and DC, which if true is much safer than MIT's scheme. And I submit wifi and cell phone are far more dangerous than the industry is letting on. "Sanctioned by the FCC..." get real! Every government regulatory agency's motto is "...how much is this thingy worth to ya?" (cloud rises from agent's illegal #50 Cuban fatty) BTW FDA is the world's biggest perp when it comes to graft, corruption, and looking away from any health considerations, (their very charge) while the money gets slathered all around. FCC is a relative newcomer to the game. But then such slippery slope is inevitable, as all human history shows. Forbidden Planet indeed, one of my all time favorite cultural references. We are the Krel! I have said for over 30 years: just because we can doesn't mean we should. GM food, out of control big pharma, the nanny state, even wifi and cell all fall into this category in my rather well researched book. ...and of course nuclear weapons... Time for a good 'ol Jeffersonian casting off. That mess is irreparable. Maybe too the "wireless revolution?" cat

Big Ole Jack
Big Ole Jack

This theory is based in Tesla's theories, but to modulate electrical power over radiowaves, one must be ready to accept being bombarded with strong secondary radiation to get the signal farther than a few feet. This technology has potential, but any health effects may put a serious damper on it.

Dr Dij
Dr Dij

will now join Uncle Fester and be able to put a lightbulb in her mouth and light it up. dual coils = strong magnetic fields, not good for health strong RF / radio signals enuf to light a bulb are either directed or omnidirectional, and if in all directions, they fill a large area with RF just to light a bulb. If not directional they sound incredibly inefficient, e.g. many more watts than need to light hte bulb. Tho with LED lites might not be alot. Now you'll have to worry that your neighbor's Wi-Po (wireless power) network is causing you cancer. Forbidden Planet here we come! (they were amazed that the power meters for the planetary reactors on FP had no wires)

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

It's interesting to note that PowerCast (a competitor to WiTricity) touts its wireless power solution as "safe" and sanctioned by the FCC. It's uses RF so I'm not sure how it's much safer. Can any of you physics and engineering experts break it down for me?

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

In addition to the health hazards, I wonder about the impact of objects between the source and the client object on the power transmission.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

Thanks for adding that. I'm looking forward to seeing how this technology develops.

Peconet Tietokoneet-217038187993258194678069903632
Peconet Tietokoneet-217038187993258194678069903632

Hi Jason Hiner, good post, i think the idea is that laptops and mobile devices will have a device that will viberate and in doing so start to charge the battery, similar to a cars dynamo charging the battery for example. More info below. Wireless power 1) Power from mains to antenna, which is made of copper 2) Antenna resonates at a frequency of 6.4MHz, emitting electromagnetic waves 3) 'Tails' of energy from antenna 'tunnel' up to 5m (16.4ft) 4) Electricity picked up by laptop's antenna, which must also be resonating at 6.4MHz. Energy used to re-charge device 5) Energy not transferred to laptop re-absorbed by source antenna. People/other objects not affected as not resonating at 6.4MHz

Big Ole Jack
Big Ole Jack

The radar in the nose cone of their fighters emits quite a lot of radiation and can explode an egg in midair if hit by the beam.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

We have a variety of mobile target-locating radars in the artillery. I have never used military equipment in an unauthorized manner to cook Hot Pockets, hot dogs, tomato soup, Pop Tarts, etc. Never. Don't know what you're talking about. Don't use the little sleeves that come with the Hot Pockets.

Big Ole Jack
Big Ole Jack

the thing will explode like a bomb in midair from being bombarded with microwave radiation I can picture the amount of pigeon and other bird carcasses rotting away on the ground from crossing the beam.

Editor's Picks