Wireless Power – Coming Sooner Than You Think

Ever since Nikola Tesla wrote that he had come up with a way to wirelessly send electricity around the world, man has dreamed of a day in which the electric power he uses to power his household appliances would be delivered without those pesky wires. It seems almost like science fiction, that man would be able to power his microwave, his cell phone, his television – and even his electric car – all without having the burden of connecting unsightly and dangerous wires everywhere.

There have been wireless breakthroughs over the years. Most people probably don’t remember the days when remote controls were attached to the television set by a wire. But, we all can remember back to the days when every telephone headset was connected to the base by a wire. Heck, even cell phones used to have the headset connected to a relatively huge base by a wire. But, all that has changed. Today wires have disappeared where they were once very common. But, while all of these advances are great, we still have not seen a credible glimpse of the future of wireless power. It seems that old Nikola Tesla’s breakthrough wireless power still eludes us, a hundred years later.

Current Wireless Power

So, where do we stand on wireless power as of right now? The closest any of us have come to commercially available wireless power is probably wireless cellphone power mats, which charge cell phones without actually having to plug them in. The science behind the wireless charging pad involves a wave that the pad sends out, which the phone will then pick up and convert into energy to be stored in the battery. Because the waves travel though space, no wires are needed. This is certainly a convenient breakthrough, one which will no doubt be more and more important as the populace converts from desktop computers to wireless devices, such as smart phones and tablets. But, having a pad on which can be placed all kinds of electronics which are battery operated, and rechargeable batteries themselves, is just the tip of the iceberg for this technology.

Coming Soon To A Store Near You

Retailers are already figuring out different ways to use the technology behind the wireless charging pad in order to revolutionize the way they present and maintain their inventories. One example is a magazine which has a full light show on the front cover. The trick is that the magazine stand acts as the wireless power transmitter, while the front cover of the magazine has a power receiver imbedded. When the magazine (or book, package, etc.) is removed from the stand the lights go off.

Another example of the use of this technology is in keeping rechargeable batteries charged. We have all seen toys which move and make sounds. This is usually because they have rechargeable batteries inside. When the toys sit on the shelf, and are tested over and over again, the batteries can drain. But, when the shelf itself acts as a wireless power transmitter, the batteries can be automatically recharged without having to be removed first.

Wirelessly Powering The Entire Home

This kind of technology, wireless charging, is truly the future. Current technologies generally require a sleeve, or some other similar medium, to be applied in order for the wireless charging to work on a cell phone or tablet. New technologies are being tested which would allow the user to recharge without a sleeve. In fact, companies are currently working on ways to allow the user to apply what looks very much like a memory card to their appliance. But instead of providing memory, the card would allow wireless charging.
Other applications of wireless charging are also being tested which will allow the consumer to power much more energy consuming appliances, such as a blender. The trick is figuring out a way to embed the energy transmitter into a countertop or table, without having to drill holes. But, new chargers are being developed which will be able to operate though thicker materials such as a table top. There are even reports that the chargers will be able to detect which kind of device has been placed over them – so as to provide the appropriate charge.

Electric Cars May Depend On Wireless Power

Should wireless charging really take off, it would certainly only be a matter of time before the technology is applied to electric cars. In fact, the future of electric cars may well depend on it because with a wireless charging pad, the car owner would be less likely to forget to charge the car – it would happen automatically. There are currently charging pads under development which would allow power transfer of about 90% – which is close to the power transfer of plugging in. One additional note – should an animal go get under the car – think the family cat – the system would automatically power down.

Questions Remain To Be Answered

So, the future of wireless charging seems to be bright. This is all well and good. But, it feels like the equivalent of a party trick. Sure, it’s cool. But the fact is that there will still be wires connected somewhere, because the transmitters themselves will be connected by a wire. If a home only needed one transmitter, or two, this would certainly be a major development. But, what is still unclear about the future of wireless power, though wireless charging, is just how many transmitters will be needed. How will interference be handled? Will this technology, if applied to the whole house, cause the electric bill to increase in any significant way? And most of all, is this technology safe to be used across the whole house and over an extended period of time?

What about real wireless power? What about the kind of wireless power described by Tesla, in which one would only need to have a receiver capable of drawing on what would seem to be a limitless electrical energy source? It seems that for now, we will have to settle for the wireless charging revolution, and all its manifestations.

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