Wireless charging is already taking the world by storm, threatening to render cables obsolete, but what if the next step is even more radical? What if soon you’ll be able to charge your smartphones over Wi-Fi? Goodbye that thing we used to call cables, farewell charging stations, hello open air and sci-fi come to life? Certainly seems like that’s where we’re headed.
The Science Behind Wi-Fi Charging
Researchers at the University of Washington are working on “power over Wi-Fi” technology that allows you to recharge your device wirelessly from up to 30 feet away. Their main goal is to mash up communication and power to create a single entity, using what’s already there (Wi-Fi infrastructure) to serve as a power source.
Time to get a bit science-y. What “power over Wi-Fi” essentially does is take radio frequency power (RF) which Wi-Fi routers already transmit and turn it into usable direct current power (DC). However, as the amount of power routers can emit over a period of time is limited, the scientists came up with a software that makes sure power signals are released only when user traffic is below a certain level, which then allows for uninterrupted charging.
Impressive Results Worthy of Legendary Scientists
In their demonstration, the team charged rechargeable batteries from up to 28 feet away, a camera from up to 17 feet away and a temperature sensor from up to 20 feet away. Still, until the Federal
Communications Commission bans the rule that router power output can’t be larger than 1 watt, this invention will not have any practical use. Never say never, though, right?
As the researchers state in their paper, they drew their inspiration for this invention from the legendary scientist Nikola Tesla himself who “dreamed of eliminating wires for both power and communication”.
Well, Mr. Tesla, seems like we’re nearly there.