Wireless power is on its way
Posted: 6th Aug 2012
The Samsung Galaxy S3's induction loop is designed to charge wirelessly.
Back in 1900 super-scientist and arch rival to Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, was awarded a patent for a ‘System of Transmission of Electrical Energy’.
The system in question was capable of “producing at one point an electrical pressure of such character and magnitude as to cause thereby a current to traverse elevated strata of the air between the point of generation and a distant point to which the energy is to be received and utilized.”
To put it another way, Tesla had discovered a way of beaming an electric current through the air using magnetic fields.
It may sound ludicrous, but Tesla’s technology was well developed and perfectly safe to use, and its techniques had been first demonstrated almost a decade earlier.
Tesla, whose work underpins radio transmission and A/C electrical supplies, believed he could transmit electrical current over the oceans using his wireless technology. For decades, however, wireless energy transfers for domestic received little attention – until recently, when researchers realised that it could be the perfect solution for all the gadgets we have kicking around our homes that each require their own charging leads.
If you’re fed up with having a tangle of microUSB, iPod and kettle leads strung all over your lounge, you’re not alone. And the good news is that wireless power is about to come of age.
Bring on the Powermat
Several groups, including Fulton Innovations and scientists at MIT, have been working for the last ten years or so to produce a standardised method of ‘magnetic resonance induction’ power transmission that’s suitable for fitting into phones, tablets and the like without increasing the cost. You may have seen some early wireless charges, like Powermat, which are already on sale using this technology.
Powermat is a simple pad that sits on your desk. Just drop your phone or music player on to it and the battery will start charging, using wireless power. The downside, however, is that you’ll need an adaptor for every gadget you want to charge, so it’s not much more convenient than wires.
The Samsung Galaxy S3
Enter the Samsung Galaxy S3 – the latest top-end Android phone which is currently riding high in the sales charts. It’s not been widely reported, but inside the S3′s battery there’s an induction loop designed to charge it wirelessly. While Samsung hasn’t yet released a charger for it, Dutch company Zens is releasing a third party charger next month.
Given how popular the S3 is, and how attractive the ability to charge it without plugging in a microUSB cable will be, this could well be the breakthrough moment for wireless power.
According to early reports, Zens’ system is likely to cost around £50 when it goes on sale, so it won’t be cheap. If it can be modified to work with other gadgets in the future, though, it’ll be well worth it.
A cable free future for all? Rejoice.
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