What is Wireless Power?


Anyone who attends a class or meeting where most of the participants have laptop computers is well aware that there are never enough power outlets—and when they are available, they are invariably located in inconvenient places. Wireless power, already being prototyped by several companies, promises to alleviate the problem by making power for charging batteries in devices readily available. Using near-field inductive coupling, power can be transmitted through special surfaces or even through open space to charge devices within a home, office, school, or other setting. Consumer products are already entering the market; the Powermat, for instance, charges up to three devices placed onto its surface (each device must first be slipped into a compatible sleeve). Fulton Innovation's eCoupled technology is designed to be built into desk- and countertops, enabling not only power transfer but other wireless communications between devices placed on the surfaces. Witricity is developing transmitters that would be embedded in walls or other furniture, transferring power via inductive coupling to receivers attached to devices anywhere within the home or classroom. The impact of wireless power for education will primarily be felt in learning spaces; the devices we carry will become more useful and easier to maintain, with increased opportunity for longer use in a variety of settings.

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