This week my new computer showed up. I was excited to get it set up and start using it right away. There was only one problem. Before I could put my new computer on my desk, I had to pull apart all of the wires and cables, sort them out, and decide which ones were needed for the new computer. There was a power cable for the computer, a power cable for the monitor, a cable for the camera attached to the computer, power cables for the computer’s speakers, cables going to and from the USB hub, a cable connecting the computer to the printer and another cable to power the printer, and various cables for plugging in iPods, cameras, etc. There was even a loose cable tangled in with the others that seemed to have no purpose.
They were all in such a twisted mess that I was reminded why I kept them all stuffed down behind my desk and kept out of sight. Untangling all of the cables and then figuring out how to connect them all to my new computer was the most time consuming part of installing the computer. If only someone would invent a way to power a computer and all of the peripheral devices without the need for all of the cables. What if there were such a thing as wireless transmission of electricity?
The concept of transmitting electricity wirelessly is actually an old one. Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla both did research on wireless electricity back in the late 1800’s. Although they agreed that it was important to research how to transmit electricity wirelessly, they disagreed on how electricity should be generated. I like to think of Tesla and Edison as the original AC/DC. Tesla thought that electricity should be generated and transmitted as alternating current while Edison believed that it should be done via direct current. While we know that Tesla, over time, won that debate, it is interesting to note that both scientists agreed that it would not be very efficient to create a massive infrastructure of metal wires around the globe. Unfortunately, with wireless electricity never taking hold, what has developed over time is a massive system of hard wiring that would disappoint both Edison and Tesla.
Even though the concept of wireless electricity has, for the most part, fallen by the wayside for the past 100 years, it is now shockingly close to being commercially available. Watch the following videos and see if you find them as amazing as I do.
This method of transmitting electricity can charge many different devices over a range of many meters. How does it work? Basically, energy is transmitted as an electromagnetic wave from a transmitter coil to a receiver coil, in much the same way that radio waves are transmitted to a stereo receiver from a radio tower. The wireless devices being shown in the videos have the main (transmitter) coil hidden in the table/counter. The main coil transmits low frequency electromagnetic waves to a receiver coil hidden in the devices being powered. The receiver coil vibrates at the same resonant frequency as the transmitter coil, absorbs the electromagnetic energy, and voltage begins to build up that can then be used as electricity. The transmitter coil can be hidden in a ceiling, behind a wall, or, as shown in the videos, under a desk or countertop. The receiver coil needs to be embedded in or attached to the device being powered.
With this type of technology you would never again have to plug in your cellphone, iPod, Blackberry, etc. Simply place them on a surface that is near a transmitter coil and they would start to charge. Imagine having a transmitter pad in your garage that you could park an electric car on. Simply pull into your garage and your car will start to charge right away. The possibilities are endless.
You won’t find this technology at your neighborhood Radio Shack, or at least you won’t find it there right now. Maybe soon? How cool would that be? Hopefully it will be quite some time before I buy a new computer but, when I do, I hope that I can simply set my new computer onto a desktop fitted with the wireless electricity technology and skip having to spend time with the mess of cables behind my desk that appear to be reproducing like tribbles.