At the CES we discovered a number of companies offering great wireless charging solutions for smartphones, wearables and other low power devices. Wireless high-power transfer is nothing new but the increasing amount of power which can be transferred opens up some exciting new possibilities for the technology.
WiTricity, a Massachusetts based company, is already envisioning a live with no cables at all. The team is working on highly resonant wireless power transfer. Within in this technology an electric current is sent to a source resonator inducing an oscillating magnetic field at a specific frequency which can be transferred to a receiver resonator tuned at the same frequency. This enables the transfer of power over distance without the need to align the powered device precisely to the source, support of multiple devices, different sizes of source and device resonators and the usage of resonant repeaters which can be placed between source and receiver to increase the distance without losing efficiency. The technology is conform to the safety regulations of different organisations. Get an overview on the topic in the infographic below:
A Wireless Life
So with wireless power transfer knocking at our doors the questions rises: what to do with it? The technology could be adapted for nearly all electronic devices – we envisioned some of the best use cases below.
There are rumours some of us have partners who love to redecorate the living room every now and then or in some case on a monthly basis. Now imagine you could eliminate the external wires of your TV, lights, laptops and smartphones which means also being independent from power outlets. You could change the place of everything just by moving it without the need to open your walls and lay new cables.
Moving furniture around makes you hungry. You rush over to the kitchen and want to blend some fresh fruits to make a smoothie, but then you hesitate as cleaning the kitchen blender might not be worth enjoying the cold beverage. With no cables and no plugs your blender could be waterproof so you can just put the whole thing in the dishwasher to have it cleaned for you while you’re already sipping on the straw of your shake! Too good to be true? Watch the video we took at CES at the Qi Wireless Power Consortium booth:
No wires means a lot more flexibility for a wide range of consumer devices. You could take a lamp you use for reading from one room to another, same applies for speakers, computer mice, and more. Also you can place all devices wherever you want to and they will work just fine.
Charging your electrical vehicle (EV) at home requires a charging station with custom plugs you have to attach each night, and if you are taking a long trip you will have to stop for juice for an extended time period. With wireless charging you could just park your EV and it will charge. Envisioning that it will be possible to transfer power to moving objects in the future it would be possible to place chargers under the streets. This would mean your car charges while driving along increasing the range significantly. Hello EV, you just got a lot more appealing!
Robotics are a huge trend in manufacturing which would highly profit from wireless power as machines and robots could operate in an area without the need to return to charging stations. In harsh environments like mining or underwater where it is impractical to run wires the new technology could save a lot of money to companies and open new possibilities for the use of electronic equipment.
While currently most medical instruments and power tools used for treatment or surgery are plugged in in some way or use batteries a wireless solution could help to simplify many processes and make operations safer. It also could help to improve sterilisation and to eliminate contamination associated with removable batteries. The best use case however is the combination of wireless power transfer with implantable medical devices like ventricular assist devices, pacemakers, defibrilators, and more.