Researchers Not Giving Up On Dream Of Wireless Power

from the but-I'm-not-the-only-one dept

At some point or another, everybody's fantasized about it: wouldn't it be great if an electronic device could be powered wirelessly, fully eliminating the need for cables? It's an idea that's been talked about for a long time, back to the work of Nikola Tesla. Now a new team of researchers at MIT is going after the problem again. They believe that there's solid physics backing the idea up, and in fact their research builds on Tesla's original work. Still, this is firmly at the theoretical stages. Consider how long it's taking for fuel cell powered mobile devices to take off. We can safely say that this will take a much, much longer, if it ever comes about.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 15th, 2006 @ 9:55am

    sure, you can have wireless power. Motors/generators are wireless power. look at how big they are.

    look at transformers. they transfer power wirelessly. albiet over small distances.

    sure, it's possible, however the ammount of energy needed to transmit the power would probably greatly overshaddow the usefullness of wireless power.

    unless there is some type of "quantum" device that can broadcast shortrange low power, and have another device that can "use it" kinda like RF ID tags. right?

    i doubt we'll get to the point where our ipods/cellpones/laptops will recharge/run off of this wireless power.

    plus, won't it cause cancer?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Dillenger69, Nov 15th, 2006 @ 10:09am

    this is too cool

    This could be for more than just powering rechargeable gadgets. Depending on the wattage limitations this could be used to blanket roadways and make electric vehicles extremely feasible.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Rob, Nov 15th, 2006 @ 10:21am

    Oh boy!

    I sure hope MIT plans to come up with a cure for cancer at the same time they unleash this scheme for flooding us with even *more* RF energy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Haywood, Nov 15th, 2006 @ 10:39am

    "Consider how long it's taking for fuel cell powered mobile devices to take off."
    I just have this picture of someone with a funnel and a jug refueling a lap top and it make me smile.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    your mom, Nov 15th, 2006 @ 10:48am


    You know, they cover this if you had RTFA.

    Not saying that it will work, and I am sure that there are hurdles aplenty, but none of what you discuss matters in the scheme that they have outlined.

    But I do love smug recitation of high school physics, so I'll let you slide.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 15th, 2006 @ 10:53am

    Sony Recalls Fuel Cell Laptops

    Consider how long it's taking for fuel cell powered mobile devices to take off.

    Exploding laptop batteries are bad enough, imagine exploding fuel cells full of liquid hydrogen.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Foo Yuck, Nov 15th, 2006 @ 10:58am


    Yeah, I trust physics commentary from a guy who can't spell simple words like overshadow, albeit, or amount.

    I am interested in cellpone technology, though. Is that a way to cook a cornpone through cellular technology? Enlighten me, genius.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Darryl, Nov 15th, 2006 @ 11:00am

    wireless power

    I don't think wireless power has anything to do with rechargeable batteries. I think the idea is to transmit electricity itself through the air, similar to how data is transferred wirelessly. One would conclude that this is physically impossible, which is probably why it's still considered a dream. But then again, lightning travels through the air and contains enormous amounts of electricity. This idea reminds me of nuclear fusion. It's done by nature all the time but humans have yet to duplicate it artificially.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    your mom's mom, Nov 15th, 2006 @ 11:07am

    you must be within 17 feet or so (as the article claims) not that much better than 4 feet from a wall plug.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    wtfmate, Nov 15th, 2006 @ 11:10am

    hey fooyouck

    are you retarded or just plain stupid?

    so you won't trust ac1, but we should trust you? what do you have to bring to the table?

    oh, and what's a cornpone?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Ron, Nov 15th, 2006 @ 11:19am


    Yes, lightening, and its lower powered alter-ego static electricity, do travel through the air but they are point to point transfers of current from an area of higher potential to one of lower. In the low power version the discharge causes a slight tingle. In the more dramatic version, there are severe deleterious effects on the recipient. I'm not sure that thousands of point to point discharges to power vehicles or whatever are practical. And, the thought of some sort of pervasive EM field, one strong enough to power some sort of general use device, is not all that attractive. But, how cool would it be if someone gets it right and we can just draw power for our electirc cars directly from the "air"?!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Howard Lee Harkness, Nov 15th, 2006 @ 11:27am

    New battery technology

    There is a new LiON battery technology that can withstand more than 9,000 deep-discharge cycles, does not have the problem with thermal runaway, and can be recharged very quickly. The one drawback is a slightly smaller energy capacity, which I could easily live with in exchange for never having to replace another cellphone, PDA, or laptop battery.

    For devices which have intermittent use, such as laptops and cellphones, I don't see any need for wireless power. For things that run continuously, wireless power is not likely to be economical enough to replace the AC cord.

    Violins and Musical Accessories

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    PhysicsGuy, Nov 15th, 2006 @ 11:48am

    Re: Ac1

    did you even read the article linked to about what the MIT research group is planning for the transmission of the energy wirelessly? there's no reason this isn't a completely feasible idea... and this is speaking from a classical perspective, no quantum mechanics necessary...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 15th, 2006 @ 12:00pm

    anyone got any transmission/power equations? id like to see the model they use. the mit article shows a funky little antenna on each device. they mention resonance. how does this play into everything? current through a resistive circuit will cause a voltage drop (i.e. heating of the coil) that will dampen the actual power, right? just like you can have a resonance frequency on a spring, but have it follows under the forces of friction. in my physics classes, we tried to play this this resonance idea. for "smooth" systems (i.e. lubed up track cars) you could get resonance at small amplitudes. however for a system such as a block on sandpaper, the amplitude had to be much higher to account for the loss due to friction.

    so, please somebody correct me if i'm wrong. i'm only a 3rd semester engineering student.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Foo Yuck, Nov 15th, 2006 @ 12:07pm

    Hey wtfmate


    A lot more than AC1 and you.

    There's a new tool called Google. You can enter the word 'cornpone' on their website and you can find out for yourself. The address is Try it out, it will open a whole world of new information to you!

    And it's Foo Yuck, not fooyouck you mongoloid fartknocker.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    wtfmate, Nov 15th, 2006 @ 12:16pm


    it's obvious you are both.

    google, i'm a lazy bastard. i want to give trolls like you the chance to flex your muscles, just to see how big and bad you think you are.

    oh, and have you heard of wikipedia? why just not call it cornbread, like everyone else who isn't a caucasoid redneck dumbass.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 15th, 2006 @ 12:22pm

    So let me get this straight, the guys at MIT think this is possible? They should come here so they can find out all the geniuses on this blog can tell them it isn't possible or that the inherent dangers make it impracticle. Probably a lot of you are "smarter" than me, but while I realize that, perhaps you need to realize that there just might be people smarter than you.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 15th, 2006 @ 12:37pm

    here, we get the readers digest of articles. how many posters actually read the main article? and even in the main article, how indepth are they? no formulas, expieremental data is shown. so, we believe the nice world we live in is all perfect, just like we learned in hs. so that's what gives us the autority to discredit MIT studies.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    PhysicsGuy, Nov 15th, 2006 @ 12:47pm

    Re: Another AC

    I'm pretty sure that friction isn't applicable when dealing with electromagnetic resonance like it is when dealing with resonance from a mechanical wave...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    AC's of the world UNITE (or AC's of TechDirt), Nov 15th, 2006 @ 12:51pm

    i'm pretty sure the electromagnetic wave doesn't encounter "normal" friction as well. but there are other factors that could cause a wave to diminish in power.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    PhysicsGuy, Nov 15th, 2006 @ 1:05pm

    for all the skeptics

    ... this link doesn't clarify anything but here is the guy's mit page
    how about you e-mail him and ask him himself... (also, check out the guys home page link and his publications/patents link from there... this guy is no joke...)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. identicon
    sceptic, Nov 15th, 2006 @ 1:22pm

    EM "friction"

    Among other things EM waves "lose" power due to distance from the originating point as they are most likely not send in a perfect beam, therefore power/area diminishes. Was that layman terms enough? EM field can also heat up the medium it is going through (I HOPE you can find an example yourself) losing power that way. Of course, choosing correct frequency for the given medium as well as tuning the transmitter/receiver for minimal signal loss over distance can negate all that.
    Of course, the question of what those waves do exactly to a human body still would be a question. Just like effects of any other EM fields or even solar flares.
    I am sure that outside this little discussion no one even bothered to think about it. Go us.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. identicon
    Lasander, Nov 15th, 2006 @ 1:41pm

    Its all about the money.

    Wireless power is possible. Stick a fluorescent tube close to a power line and see what happens. The problem is getting that power to cover larger areas and safety (cancer?).
    But I think the biggest hindrance to the technology is that it is a lot harder to meter so how will power companies charge you? Without an incentive to make money power companies are not going to adopt or even research this.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24. identicon
    Foo Yuck, Nov 15th, 2006 @ 2:27pm


    Well, because he didn't mention cellbread. He mentioned cellpone. That's where the joke is, you inbred cocksmoker. But I guess since you have to have cornpone explained, logic dictates that the joke would have to be explained to you as well.

    A Wikipedia is overrun by misinformation and fags, but maybe that's why you hang out there, since you're apparently well acquainted with both.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25. identicon
    Yo Mamma, Nov 15th, 2006 @ 4:22pm


    hey, at least they're spending money on this and not on the masturbation habits of old men like another college.....

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26. identicon
    PhysicsGuy, Nov 15th, 2006 @ 5:51pm

    Re: EM "friction"

    Did you not read the link either, this is why they're using resonance...

    ---Typically, systems that use electromagnetic radiation, such as radio antennas, are not suitable for the efficient transfer of energy because they scatter energy in all directions, wasting large amounts of it into free space.

    To overcome this problem, the team investigated a special class of "non-radiative" objects with so-called "long-lived resonances".

    When energy is applied to these objects it remains bound to them, rather than escaping to space. "Tails" of energy, which can be many metres long, flicker over the surface.

    "If you bring another resonant object with the same frequency close enough to these tails then it turns out that the energy can tunnel from one object to another," said Professor Soljacic.

    Hence, a simple copper antenna designed to have long-lived resonance could transfer energy to a laptop with its own antenna resonating at the same frequency. The computer would be truly wireless.

    Any energy not diverted into a gadget or appliance is simply reabsorbed. ---

    again, if you want details then e-mail the guy... i am sure that outside this little discussion nobody is "a Principal Research Scientist in the Research Laboratory of Electronics at MIT" and has conducted experiments on the subject in hand yet within this little discussion we all seem to be experts as to why this won't work and are sure it will cause cancer even though we don't understand what it is or the principles as to why it works... go us.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27. identicon
    rstr5105, Nov 16th, 2006 @ 2:04am

    This is feasible

    This is, in actuallity, not only very feasible, but also very likely to occur if the researchers play their cards right and don't stop working on it. I do note that there are problems with power/distance, and that also that is a very highly variable formula because it's affected by stupid things like water vapor in the air. (Stupid clouds! Who needs you?) however, I can see this working.

    On the same note, Another model i can see working a little bit better (if we can improve the piezo technology) is incase a piezo device in our mobile products (again the improvement would require it to generate much more voltage than they already do) design that device so resonate at an AUDIO frequency of say 24gHz (Higher hertz means less atmospheric disruption) and use audio resonation to power our piezo generator.

    I spent four years in the electronics field so I know that in theory that could work, IF we are willing to use an older tech instead of creating new.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28. identicon
    Foo Yuck, Nov 16th, 2006 @ 4:52am


    I'm actually a cocksmoker too. wtfmate, will you be my gay lover? i'll be the taker of the relationship. the sweet taste of manjuice is all i crave.

    please respond.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29. identicon
    sceptic, Nov 16th, 2006 @ 9:26am

    Re: Re: EM "friction"

    I wasn't trying to explain what MIT was achieving, I was responding to the previous post, did you not read THAT?

    And that still does not address the question of the effect on the body.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30. identicon
    mousepaw, Nov 17th, 2006 @ 5:43am

    Some light on the subject

    Just in case anybody is interested in Tesla's theory of free energy, check out this site:

    Tesla wasn't talking about batteries, rechargeable or otherwise. It isn't about generators, alternators, wind power or solar power.

    I'll admit, I had to read it a bunch of times because it's almost as hard to wrap your head around as Mike's theory of scarcity/abundance.


    I hope this is what MIT is going after...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31. identicon
    shane, Nov 28th, 2006 @ 11:11am

    I know i'm a little late but there are lots of things that provide wireless electric, most use induction... the same way a stop light induction loop detects a car, an elecromagnetic loop of wire senses a small voltage change when a piece of metal passes over it.... here are links to induction stuff A small battery charger panasonic charger es those are things that are already for sale... there are induction chargers for electric razors too.. i just got lazy. anyway... .it's all already working. maybe it's for more high powered things.?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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