Power play: Wireless charging at a distance arrives

Someday soon, your parking space could charge your car

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Fujitsu had also announced it would be shipping magnetic resonance-based wireless charging systems this year. This week, however, a Fujitsu spokesperson said there was nothing new to report on the technology.

Fujitsu
Fujitsu demonstrating its ability to power a fan through a magnetic resonance-based wireless charging system

Distance debate

Menno Treffers, chairman of the Wireless Power Consortium, said that, in general, the distance a wireless charger can emit power roughly mimics a charging coil's diameter. So, for example, a 10-inch coil would be able to charge a device up to 10 inches away.

According to Treffers, charging capability "drops off a cliff" beyond a distance equal to the size of the coil. PowerbyProxi's Cross agrees, and even said anyone trying to sell a room full of wireless power or saying it will be as ubiquitous as WiFi is being "dishonest."

"We don't think it's an efficient use of power or a safe use of power," Cross said. "We don't think it will be possible for a whole bunch of reasons: the size of the coils required to broadcast power at long distances, the levels of efficiency will quickly drop down to 10% or less. You can broadcast wireless power over six feet, but the amount of power received will be less than 10%."

Schatz, however, scoffed at naysayers.

For example, another of WiTricity's charging kits for developers -- the WiT-2000 -- is designed to transfer energy over distances ranging from less than a centimeter (directly on the surface of the charging pad) to distances totaling several tens of centimeters.

"We can demonstrate where a 10 centimeter coil can operate over 20, 30, 40 centimeters," Schatz said. "He is correct that when things are closer together they can be a bit more efficient, but they can still be efficient enough and very useful when they're at a longer distance."

Here are some additional prototypes shown for WiTricity's wireless charging technology. The tech can be used to charge smartphones, TVs, entire rooms of equipment and even electric cars at relatively long distances.

Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at  @lucasmearian or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed . His e-mail address is lmearian@computerworld.com.

See more by Lucas Mearian on Computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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