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Thursday, November 23, 2006

Blue-sky stuff: wireless power

Spotted a fascinating article in this week's 50th Anniversary edition of New Scientist magazine (essential reading for anyone interested in what's what in the wider science & technology arena btw).

A group of scientists at MIT are apparently working on something called "evanescent coupling", which, if I understand it correctly, involves switching magnetic and electric fields in a set of two matched and "resonant" copper rings. Powering up one of these induces current in the other - useful if the first is attached to mains electricity, for example. Now, although I have a physics degree, I have to confess that electromagnetism was one of my least-favourite parts of the subject, so I'll have to take a lot of this on faith.

The practical upshot is that it might be possible to "remotely" charge a wireless device at a distance of up to 5 metres. Could be rather useful for the mobile industry, methinks.....

Of course, actually putting this into commercial use is an awful long way off - the MIT guys are still at the stage of computer simulation of all of this, and are apparently now trying to build a prototype.

Sidenote: I spoke to a company called SplashPower with a charging "pad" which could transfer power to phones & other devices at a very short range, like an electric toothbrush, about 3 years ago. It used a sort of induction loop thing attached to the battery. Still seems to be around but I haven't seen much in the way of real-world products.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A short article from last week's economist might be useful for people without a technical background (like myself) to understand the issue

http://www.economist.com/science/displaystory.cfm?story_id=8167009

Marco