The following article was guest authored by me and appears in this week’s edition of Power Pulse (www.powerpulse.net). Hope you enjoy reading it! – Ran
The “electrical” revolution that began in the 18th century with the storied escapades of Benjamin Franklin and his opportunistic kite flying and eventually carried through to Nikola Tesla who sought to perfect the ability to efficiently transfer energy over long distances using thin conductive wires, gave rise to a new dawn in the era of technology.
The myriad devices and inventions made possible by the commercialization of electrical energy conductivity made our lives infinitely easier, more comfortable, and safer. For instance, we now light and warm our homes without needing to lug wood or coal, without unpleasant odors or dangerous gas leaks, and without cleaning soot stains out from a chimney or from our clothing. Washing machines, vacuum cleaners, fans, and many other devices based on gears or pumps, are activated by electrical current.
And, of course all electronic devices, such as CD players, TV’s and radios, computers, communications networks, medical equipment, measuring and monitoring devices and a countless other inventions, could not have been invented without the ability to supply power from electrical outlets or batteries.
Yet the same technology that has served us so well and brought us this far, is now teetering on the brink of obsolescence. If you think about it, our devices and inventions are increasingly trending toward becoming wireless. Why then are we are still tethered to the outlet for charging those same devices? It’s because the last time that power delivery was actually contemplated by anyone in any meaningful way was way back in the 18th century! Not since Tesla has any meaningful thought been given to the current or future state of our plans for energy distribution.
More than ever before, we are a population reliant on our mobile devices to get us through the day. We depend on our smartphones for everything from waking us in the morning, to charting our daily schedules, keeping us entertained and of course, making sure that we can always be reached. Yet, while we rely on our devices so much more than ever before, battery power has failed to keep pace with our needs.
Ultimately we must face the fact that our current technology as it relates to the use and transfer of power is fast becoming outdated. After all, if our devices can operate wirelessly then it’s only a matter of time until we demand that our charging practices follow suit. Our current method for transferring electricity is limited by the very properties of electricity itself. Electricity must be controlled to be utilized effectively and, at the same time, it goes against the fundamental nature of electricity to be controlled. Will we forever be tied to wires when transferring electrical waves? The answer is clearly no.
Industrial science (and scientific ‘know-how’ in general) continues to evolve and mature as the need arises. Consider the field of communications, for example — which has always been a step ahead of the field of energy transfer. Communications technologies have developed from the days of runners and messengers, to smoke signals and flags for conveying information. We have progressed to the use of electrical current and light, to the advent of radio waves. Cellular phones have replaced landline phones, Bluetooth headsets can be tossed in our briefcase, laptops with wireless modems enable us to surf the Internet from any office or café. Why not transfer energy in a different form that will truly allow us to cut the last cord?
Electromagnetic waves can travel and propagate energy from one place to another without any physical impediment (even through a vacuum). For example, solar energy is emitted from the sun, providing light energy on earth. Heat emitted from a fireplace heats our homes, and microwave emitted in an oven cooks food. Why not use electromagnetic waves as a “carrier” to transmit energy and thereby activate the entire range of electrical devices in our lives?
This idea is not original. Nikola Tesla demonstrated this over 100 years ago, when he turned on fluorescent bulbs by holding them at a distance of tens of meters from a strong radio transmitter. At Powermat, we stand on the shoulders of giants like Tesla. Not only have we perfected a solution for charging devices through the use of an electromagnetic field, but no longer having to rely on electricity has opened a world of new possibilities. And, while electricity has become pervasive in our lives and we have grown to rely on it – almost as a helpful “friend” — we must never forget that it is also an inherently dangerous property.
Electrical fires, whenever and wherever they occur, are devastating. Throughout the United States, electrical fires cause untold injury on a daily basis, claiming both lives and property. Many electrical fires are rooted in faulty electrical systems and even more result from inappropriate wiring installations, overloading of circuits, and improper use of extension cords. Moreover, dollar loss per fire for residential building electrical fires is more than double that for nonelectrical fires.
Powermat technology provides wire-free power to electronic devices so that they can be used in nearly any venue without the need for socket-based or battery-based power. As a result, lighting fixtures, kitchen appliances, computers, TVs, and children’s toys receive power directly through the wall, the countertop or any other surface that has been Powermat-enabled. And since Powermat transfers energy by means of magnetic induction, rather than electrical current, it negates the potential for electrical sparking while at the same time eliminating the potential for overloading sockets and extension cords.
In fact, in the not-too-distant future Powermat envisions a world where wireless power delivery is as prevalent as WiFi availability. By eliminating the transfer of electricity in favor or magnetic energy we open ourselves to an entirely new world where wireless power distribution is accomplished directly through surfaces like walls and tabletops. Where there is no potential for smoke (i.e. the elimination of electrical conductivity) there is also no potential for fire.
It is entirely safe to embed Powermat technology into surfaces (walls, ceilings, tabletops, countertops, dashboards, etc.) since there is no potential for electrical sparking.
As part of New York launch of Duracell Powermat (the joint venture formed between Procter & Gamble’s Duracell brand and Powermat Technologies) we recently announced the ‘Wireless Power Nation’ initiative, an ambitious undertaking to provide access to wireless power is places and settings frequented by consumers throughout their day. Our initial list of partners includes:
• Barclays Center
• Madison Square Garden
• The 40/40 Club
• Delta Airlines
• Westfield Garden State Plaza; and
• General Motors
Each of these partners will have a dedicated built-in wireless charging solution that will enable Duracell Powermat users to simply ‘drop and charge’ their iPhone and other smartphones on a wireless charging ‘hotspot’ in order to power up. It’s a reality whose time has come and a science that has evolved to the next level…by necessity. We need our smartphones to be powered and ready to go all day and battery power simply isn’t keeping up with the functionality of our devices.
In the short term, we are solving for a real need but the long-term implications for power delivery are far greater.
In just a few short years from now, I believe that you can realistically expect to live in a ‘house without wires’ where traditional electrical cords are eliminated by introducing an alternative, wireless power distribution system based on magnetic energy in key environments, including:
• Bathrooms: Lighting fixtures, heaters, and countertops will incorporate device-charging capabilities to power hair dryers, electric tooth brushes, etc. An entire “wet” environment will exist and it will be free of the current dangers associated with the hazardous combination of wet environments and electricity.
• Kitchens: We will facilitate the easy and safe use of kitchen appliances on wet countertop spaces.
• Home office: Traditionally these are small spaces but with the elimination of “spaghetti wires” – which keeps the room uncluttered – there can be enormous space-related gains to more easily accommodate multiple office appliances such as computers, printers/fax machines, cell phones, and desk lamps among other appliances.
• Living/Entertainment rooms: Allowing for flexible and cost-effective positioning and repositioning of home theatres and entertainment elements (no sockets!)
• Child/Playrooms: Socket-free equals child-friendly!
• Outdoor areas: Weather-sensitive recreation areas such as rooftops, pools, balconies, and BBQ pits can get a steady and safe power supply regardless of inclement weather.
• Multi-purpose areas: Unique areas like garages, storage rooms and other non-traditional spaces will now have a solution for adjusting and retrofitting their specific power-related needs.
The future of power delivery is here and now. And, as is the case with all technologies, evolution is inevitable.
Read Ran's posts on innovation, society, and the world at large.