LOOK! NO WIRES!
Posted by shadmia on June 8, 2007
Remember when the first remote controls came out for TV sets? They were wired remote controls. You had to connect them to your TV and somehow hide the wires so that no-one tripped over them. But they were great, they freed us from having to get up every time you wanted to change a channel. Next came infra-red remotes and this was just the best thing that ever happened to TV! Now we could really become couch potatoes! and no wires! The same thing happened with telephones. The first models were wired to a plug in the wall and you could only go so far while talking on the phone. Cordless phones set us free to roam the entire house and still talk. But it was the cellular phone that gave us real freedom. You could take it anywhere with you and still make and receive calls. The same thing happened with computers. WI-FI gave us the freedom to take our laptops with us everywhere.
The next revolution in wireless technology could be right in your own home. Scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed a way to wirelessly beam electricity through an entire house. No more plugs! In the first successful trial of its kind, the team was able to illuminate a 60-watt light bulb 7ft away.
The inspiration for this project came from the lead researcher, Dr Marin Soljacic, who after many nights of forgetting to charge his cell phone came up with the idea that it would be great if the phone would just charge itself. In order to make this happen it would be necessary to find a way to transmit electricity wirelessly. The end result of this “idea” was an invention the team called ‘WiTricity’, which involves filling a room with a ‘non-radiative’ electromagnetic field. Most objects in the room – such as people, desks and carpets – would be unaffected by the electromagnetic field. But any objects designed to resonate with the electromagnetic field would absorb the energy.
The scientists say the technique works only over distances of up to 9ft. However, they believe it could be used to charge up a battery within a few yards of the power source connected to a receiving coil. Placing one source in each room could provide enough power for an entire house. The receiver and transmitter would not have to be in view of each other.
Professor Peter Fisher, another of the researchers, said: “As long as the laptop is in a room equipped with a source of wireless power, it would charge automatically without having to be plugged in. In fact, it would not even need a battery to operate inside such a room.”
The researchers believe there is little to worry about on safety grounds, saying that magnetic fields interact weakly with living organisms and are unlikely to have any serious side effects.