If one company’s vision of the future comes to pass, all of the electronic devices we use in our lives — from cell phones to computers to televisions to electric cars — will be powered or charged without having to use a single wire, power cord or plug.
What’s cooler than that, you ask? Well, you know those wireless cell phone chargers that simply have you rest your phone on top of them to transfer electricity? How about the ability to power and charge electronic devices without having to make any physical contact at all?
That’s the goal shared by the folks at WiTricity, a Massachusetts–based startup that has developed a pretty cutting edge way of transmitting electricity from a power source to an electronic device over short distances. The technology uses magnetic fields to transfer electricity between two points in a process called resonance. While you can’t use WiTricity’s technology to transfer electricity over long distances, electricity can be transferred from far enough away to do away with wires, cords and plugs.
The technology is so promising that WiTricity has already reached agreements with two significant companies, MediaTek and Mitsubishi Motors Corporation, to jointly develop power and charging technologies for wireless communications, digital multimedia and electric vehicles.
We really like the idea of being able to park electric vehicles in normal-looking parking spaces and recharge them from a device hidden under the ground; not having to worry about big, anaconda-like vehicle recharging cords is definitely a plus. According to Mitsubishi, WiTricity’s magnetic resonance wireless charging system can already deliver up to 3.3 kilowatts of charging power over 20 centimeters, or about eight inches, with an efficiency of more than 90 percent. While that’s actually a pretty impressive first step, we can only imagine where this technology might be after a few years of development in collaboration with major tech players.
We also really like the idea of being able to hang our widescreen LCD TV in the middle of our wall without having to drill a lot of holes or run power cords down the wall like some sort of robotic vine forest. What’s the next step? Being able to dump all our audio and video cables and cords when somebody develops streaming capabilities for all of our audio, video and data. Now that would be wireless.
“MediaTek Inc. Signs Technology Transfer and License Agreement with WiTricity Corp. for Wireless Charging,” MediaTek press release, July 11, 2011.
“WiTricity Corporation, IHI Corporation, and Mitsubishi Motors Corporation Combine to Develop Easily Deployable Wireless Charging Systems for Electric Vehicles,” Mitsubishi Motors Corporation press release, Sept. 27, 2011.
WiTricity, “WiTricity Technology: The Basics.”