Eric Giler demonstrates wireless power at TEDGlobal 2009
It's fascinating to think that while Edison and Tesla battled over the ascendancy of AC versus DC, most of the world didn't think this electricity thing was going to take off - I mean, who was going to spend trillions of dollars rolling out great coils of copper wire to bring this thing to the masses? Nikola Tesla was thinking along the same lines, and the Serbian genius's mysterious Wardenclyffe Tower was to be an experiment in beaming electricity wirelessly across the world, eliminating the need for a wired power grid altogether. But wireless electricity has been enjoying a cautious revival in the past decade - mainly at short distance and for reasonably trivial applications like charging cell phones and other battery-powered equipment. And as Eric Giler's great ten-minute demonstration at this year's TEDGlobal shows, wireless power seems very close to breaking through into the mainstream market.
Watch the presentation below, in which Eric Giler of WiTricity wirelessly powers a TV from a distance of some 2m (6.5ft), and then proceeds to charge Nokia, Apple and T-Mobile cell phones using very compact versions of the same technology:
So while it's still baby steps for unplugged devices and charging, the idea of this magnetically resonant, safe power transmission seems set to enter the home very soon.
But as Giler points out, batteries and wires suck - they're wasteful of materials, they have a very finite life-span and they're energy-inefficient to produce. So we're left to wonder (again) what might have been, if Nikola Tesla had succeeded in completing his Wardenclyffe tower - and several others like it around the world, which would create a large enough wireless power grid to completely render batteries unnecessary. Battery-free phones, electric cars and home ... the only question would be - how could you charge people for it?
Loz has been one of Gizmag's most versatile contributors since 2007. Joining the team as a motorcycle specialist, he has since covered everything from medical and military technology to aeronautics, music gear and historical artefacts. Since 2010 he's branched out into photography, video and audio production, and he remains the only Gizmag contributor willing to put his name to a sex toy review. A singer by night, he's often on the road with his a cappella band Suade.
President Obama, you have got to see this!!! The future of America is here!
Don't charge people for it.
This article ends with, -the only question would be - how could you charge people for it?-
This was the same problem that kept the funding from coming when Tesla was alive and able to troubleshoot any issues this system would have. But we have caught up with the marvel and have science in a position to make this happen.
So to answer the question you have to foresee the breadth of use and costs.
Either the state will manage this and charge equally, like a mass utility. Or every unit made will have a meter on it to determine use (which will quickly give way to a market of pirated gear).
OR, if we harness wind-solar-tidal-etc energy (or even using much of what we have now) and can produce nearly free energy, we could do this without looking to a huge profit margin.
For once, we could choose to offer something to society that does not rise and fall with the stock market, but rather with the flow of our communities.
Imagine a grid of clothes washers and dishwashers that start and stop like dominoes to best maximize energy use. Each one setting off the next in the middle of the night once a certain point in a cycle is reached.
None of this should discourage conservation and tech advances, but that too is one of our great modern challenges.
Thanks for the great articles Gizmag!
Knut Scott Lindsley
This is the new generation....a world driven by wireless electricity, with no need for fossil fuels....companies thinking of a way to charge for the service, instead of charging for gas and electricity...have people pay an annual fee for it, simple and sweet. But seriously Obama, this is the way to go
So, what happens if you walk between the energy transmitter and receiver? Are we talking microwaved human organs? I remember back in the early days of point-to-point microwave network transmitters and receivers for long range point of site networking without wires...the early microwave transceivers were badly calibrated and if there were trees in your line of site, leaves that strayed in the microwave beam would turn brown and fall off and the branches would become brittle and break! I wonder if the same thing will happen here?
and what about efficiency?
Harry van Trotsenburg
Certainly a move in the right direction. Tesla was right all along and I think he\'s vision was to supply electricity to every-one for very little money or even at no cost. But of course the \'grid\' that could be put in place will cost money and those putting it up will want payment... Various ways of funding it I guess.
Anyhow, Tesla\'s last invention, that so mysteriously disappeared, could have solved the pricing issue and I think may still. There were others that also harnessed \'free energy\' and they also disappeared...