Dr Katie Hall is developing ways to transfer power without wires. As part of a crude experiment, she filled a tiny room with gigantic copper refigerator coils. In the middle of the room was a light bulb. Incredibly it lit up the room despite the fact that there were no wires attached to it.
“Let’s work on this. This is the future,” she said at the time. Now Chief Technology Officer at WiTricity, Dr Hall is working to develop wireless “resonance” technology.
“We’re going to transfer power without any kind of wires,” says Dr Hall. “But, we’re not actually putting electricity in the air. What we’re doing is putting a magnetic field in the air.”
WiTricity has developed a “Source Resonator”, which is a coil of electrical wire that can generate a magnetic field when power is attached. When another coil is brought into close proximity, an electrical charge can be generated in it.
“When you bring a device into that magnetic field, it induces a current in the device, and by that you’re able to transfer power,” explains Dr Hall. And that is how the light bulb is able to light up.
These magnetic fields are just the same kind that are used in WiFi routers and therefore are perfectly safe. In the future we could see our houses completely free of wires.
“I’m Never Going To Have To Plug It In”
WiTricity plans that one day smartphones will charge whilst in your pocket or bag as you walk around, you will watch your favourite program on a TV that has no wires and that electric cars will refuel without the need to be plugged in.
Hall imagines the endless possibilites of life without the constraints of wires.
“We just don’t think about it anymore: I’m going to drive my car home and I’m never going to have to go to the gas station and I’m never going to have to plug it in.
“I can’t even imagine how things will change when we live like that.”
“The idea of eliminating cables would allow us to re-design things in ways that we haven’t yet thought of, that’s just going to make our devices and everything that we interact with, that much more efficient, more practical and maybe even give brand new functionality.”