A presentation at yesterday’s Intel Developer Forum (IDF) saw Intel demonstrate a captivating technology that has the potential to eliminate the need for power cords, chargers or batteries in our everyday lives, making us for once truly wireless. During the presentation, the chip maker wirelessly powered a 60 watt light globe from three feet away with 75 percent efficiency.
The technology works by creating resonance between two magnetic fields, known as a “resonant induction” phenomenon. Intel hopes to one day use the technology to power laptops and other portable devices, either directly via a transmitter or by charging internal supercapacitors which can be rapidly recharged.
The idea of using resonant magnetic fields to conduct electricity was pioneered by physicist Marin Soljacic at MIT. The research project at Intel, led by Joshua R. Smith aims to build upon this work. The group at MIT, who refer to the technology as WiTricity, have been able to transmit power several meters, but at a considerably lower power efficiency of 50 percent.
Knowing that a tech industry heavyweight with a huge R&D budget is developing and improving upon this technology is really exciting. This research paves the way, in an age obsessed with wireless connectivity, for the development of a ubiquitous, wireless power transmission system. If a metering and billing process could be put in place, perhaps based on the model used for wireless broadband, I’m sure the necessary infrastructure would begin to appear virtually overnight.