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Intel Demos Wireless "Resonant" Recharging 184

Posted by timothy
from the really-strikes-a-chord dept.
Al writes "Last Thursday researchers from Intel demonstrated a way to recharge electronics from about meter away using a 'resonant' magnetic field. At an event held at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, the researchers showed off a pair of iPod speakers connected to a 30-centimeter-wide copper coil that received power from a similar, but larger, copper coil about a meter away. The recharging technique relies on a phenomenon called resonant coupling, in which objects can exchange energy when tuned to resonate at the same frequency. A similar approach was developed by researchers at MIT in 2007, and spun off into a company called WiTricity. This company has already developed a few products that use resonant coupling to recharge, including a car battery."
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Intel Demos Wireless "Resonant" Recharging

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  • Pacemakers? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sexconker (1179573) on Monday June 22, 2009 @01:29PM (#28425023)

    Pacemakers lol?

    Seriously, this is nothing more than a simple application of a simple science experiment.

    Wireless fields / broadcasts are a joke, and until we change the laws of physics, always will be. (Directed transmissions are not a joke.)

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Culture20 (968837)
      You jest, but charging pacemakers or other internal devices would be almost the only practical use for this technique.
      • by Culture20 (968837)

        You jest, but charging pacemakers or other internal devices would be almost the only practical use for this technique.

        WTF? How is this a Troll? Wireless power loses energy, so the only places it makes sense are were wires can't go or batteries can't easily be replaced. ie In The Human Body. If you're going to moderate, think a little before applying -1 Troll or -1 Flamebait.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Dragonslicer (991472)

          Wireless power loses energy, so the only places it makes sense are were wires can't go or batteries can't easily be replaced.

          It's also useful for small devices that would be safer without exposed contacts. Electric toothbrushes are the first thing that come to mind, though I'm sure there are plenty of better examples.

    • Re:Pacemakers? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by vertinox (846076) on Monday June 22, 2009 @01:34PM (#28425135)

      Pacemakers lol?

      If you think replacing a battery on an iPhone is hard, try replacing your own pacemaker battery.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by rsmits (962410)

      Pacemakers lol?

      Seriously, this is nothing more than a simple application of a simple science experiment.

      Wireless fields / broadcasts are a joke, and until we change the laws of physics, always will be. (Directed transmissions are not a joke.)

      I was doing this as a kid in the sixties with a one transistor radio powered by rf from the local broadcast station. The radio had two tuned circuits - one for receiving power, one for tuning to the station. It's exactly the same principle used here. So now we get thousands of new sources of radio frequency interference from these chargers! Thanks a lot.

      • by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

        Yeah, this is only a million times more efficient. This operates at the Watt level, not the MegaWatt level. It took massive amounts of energy to just barely power a device that uses far less energy than an iPod in your case.

        Also, regarding the radio polution, these resonance devices operate at very high frequencies, and as a radio afficianado you must know, higher frequencies mean less distance and less substantial objects can block the signal. Furthermore, differing frequencies don't interact with one a

        • by vlm (69642)

          This operates at the Watt level

          Chances are the EM waves for this device couldn't leave a room

          Ham radio is just not popular here on slashdot, oddly enough. Used to be a very popular hobby amongst the technologically advanced, now even the most obvious basics seem forgotten...

          FYI a couple watts in the 40 meter band (where this device operates) will easily communicate/interfere around the world... google for various combinations of "ham radio" QRP "40 meters" 40M ARRL "five 5 watts". The idea that "watt level" 7 mhz signals won't leave a room, is very incorrect.

          73 de n9nfb

        • by shentino (1139071)
          Taking into account how much of the inverse square attenuated radiation was actually available for the radio to absorb would be a better measure of efficiency.

          The earth receives but a minute teensy fraction of all the solar output the sun gives off in total...and it's still a big fat can of whoop ass.

          You need a friggin strong transmitter to overcome inverse square over any appreciable distance unles s you aim.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    As everyone's credit cards were erased during the demo.

    They did expect users with paper currency and PMs would be more open to purchase.

    • What happens if it happens to "resonantly connect" with the springs in your sofa or other metal loops in your house where passing a large current and the associated heating may lead to a fire? The chance of something being exactly the correct dimensions may be small but how small exactly given the number of different locations this might be deployed in? You'll probably need some safety system to ensure that this does not happen.
  • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Monday June 22, 2009 @01:31PM (#28425071) Homepage

    At an event held at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, the researchers showed off a pair of iPod speakers connected to a 30-centimeter-wide copper coil that received power from a similar, but larger, copper coil about a meter away.

    I'm having a little trouble here with the concept. Instead of small white box plugged into the wall we have these freaking huge copper wires running in circles everywhere. Just doesn't jibe with the trendy iPod image.

    Can you imagine a Beowulf cluster of these things?

    • by vertinox (846076) on Monday June 22, 2009 @01:38PM (#28425199)

      Just paint the copper wires white.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Hognoxious (631665)
      Will it interfere with the reality distortion field?
    • Well, I think being fryed (a little, or a little more) when standing in-between the devices, also does not "jibe" that much...

      Try to put them anywhere near me, and I will sue you to hell and back. ^^

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Not only is it completely impractical, not only it is not original, another much more practical contact-free charging method has been in widespread use for over 10 years. Inductance charging is reasonably efficient and very handy for waterproofing rechargeable devices, like my Panasonic shaver [thegourmetdepotco.com] (link to charger image). Not nearly the range of "resonant charging", but all the other advantages apply, and no tumors or pacemaker failures.
  • Dumb question... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by DoofusOfDeath (636671)

    Isn't resonant vibration the way tons of energy transfers occur, including plain old radio communication?

    What makes this so novel?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by neomunk (913773)

      80% power efficiency.
       

    • by Falstius (963333)
      This is magnetic coupling taking advantage of the resonant frequency of the system and is strictly a local effect. Radio's are electromagnetic radiation, which is where electrical and magnetic fields sustain each other will travelling through space indefinitely. The energy in the oscillation of a radio wave does not decrease with distance, it just gets spread out over a larger area (or absorbed, but that isn't relevant to this).
  • power consumption (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mehrotra.akash (1539473) on Monday June 22, 2009 @01:32PM (#28425107)

    what is the power consumption of the transmitting coil when there is no load coil, also, does the power consumption increase or decrease based on the number of receiving coils??

    and, what happens if you place a HDD, or your phone contains a HDD and is charged using this method, wont the magnetic field damage the magnetic media??

    similarly, magnetic fields can mess up CRT's, try taking a magnet to a CRT screen..

    • you're surrounded by magnetic fields, whether it's from the power wiring in the house you live in or your wifi access point.

      I'm guessing that the most significant reason why they have antennas that size is because they're trying to -not- have it interfere with things (well, your old microwave will still do that, but you can't do too much about that aside from replace it).

      The threat from magnetic fields comes from strong magnetic fields (it polarizes the atoms). This is why magnets around CRTs is a bad idea

      • by BillX (307153)
        No, magnets around CRTs (even little ones) are bad because they will semi-permanently magnetize any ferrous bits inside the CRT (or surroundings), slightly deflecting the output of the electron guns. (Or in case of big magnets, deform/rip the shadow mask off.) The amount of magnetization does not have to be much - on a color CRT, you only have to collectively kick a pile of these electrons over about one phosphor dot's worth (some microns) to completely screw up the colors.
    • by ckthorp (1255134)
      The magnetic coercion of a hard drive is so high that I doubt that these coils could cause the media to be damaged. However, the extra EMI might just make the logic circuits fail.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by IorDMUX (870522)

      what happens if you place a HDD, or your phone contains a HDD and is charged using this method, wont the magnetic field damage the magnetic media??

      Most HDD's are pretty well shielded, nowadays. Remember also that the receiving coil (in this case) is a 707 cm^2 wire coil, while the surface area of the hard drive in the magnetic field is likely no more than a few cm^2. (The energy absorbed by an object in this situation is proportional to its surface area in the plane perpendicular to the electric field, among other things.)

      does the power consumption increase or decrease based on the number of receiving coils??

      The power consumption in the primary would increase. Given the case of two coupled inductors (the two coils seen here), a mutual

  • by FudRucker (866063) on Monday June 22, 2009 @01:33PM (#28425125)
    i always wondered what that coil was for
    NicolaTesla [teslasociety.com]
    he was recharging his ipod!!!
    • If Tesla had an iPod back then, he must've been really into his music. I guess that finally explains why he started The Band [wikipedia.org]

    • There is a lot of places in here where people mentioning Tesla are getting modded into the dirt. Is there some Edison fanatic out there with mod points today or is there something I'm missing? Genuinely asking.
      • by vlm (69642)

        There is a lot of places in here where people mentioning Tesla are getting modded into the dirt. Is there some Edison fanatic out there with mod points today or is there something I'm missing? Genuinely asking.

        A tesla coil is a simple resonant circuit, which in his day was basically a spark-gap radio transmitter, coupled to a quarter-wave helical/vertical quarter wave antenna. So, you make the resonator out of low resistance wire to get high efficiency, and make the quarter wave antenna high resistance/impedance to get crazy high voltages for a given power level. Works purely on EM waves coupling to the quarter wave antenna, not magnetically. It's just an old fashioned radio transmitter connected to a radio re

        • So then, since its not a real magnetic device, aren't this device and the Tesla coil actually similar devices, except one is operating on the watt level rather than the kilowatt level? Admittedly that's a rather large difference, but still.
  • by Itninja (937614) on Monday June 22, 2009 @01:36PM (#28425171) Homepage
    ....it's called 'using batteries'. With a 3 meter range and relatively huge copper coils involved, how is this better that using batteries? Most devices use a transformer to customize the input for the device. With wireless power, would each device need some kind of special wireless receiver/transformer? And this would be better how?
    • by MBGMorden (803437) on Monday June 22, 2009 @01:42PM (#28425279)

      Um, this wasn't touted as a replacement for batteries. It was touted as a replacement for charging cables. IE, when I get home I throw my cell phone on the desk and it starts charging, rather than having to plug it into a cord.

      Personally, I CAN see some benefit to that concept. Not the least of which is that I just plain forgot to plug in my phone sometimes, but I ALWAYS sit it on the desk when I get home. It would also just clear up some of the clutter (I'm up to 4 different cables sitting on my desk now - a generic USB extension, a mini-USB connector, a cell phone charger, and an iPod connector).

      That said, every wireless power transmission scheme I've seen was EXTREMELY inefficient. Unless the technology could be made to work in the same ballpark efficiency as our current wired methods, I just don't see it as a good long term solution. If it was just a case though of "Yeah, we figured it out. Want one?" though then I'd be first in line.

      • by Tacvek (948259)

        A better solution would have been the splashpower product. The product in it's original incarnation, was a mat that was slightly bigger than a mousepad, and some small inexpensive receiver components. It is based on inductive coupling. The idea is that you could just lay your devices on the mat (a mat could support multiple devices simultaneously if they were small enough to fit.)

        Here is a concept image: http://web.archive.org/web/20050308101803/http://www.splashpower.com/_cms_images/sp_small.jpg [archive.org]

        Unfortunate

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Culture20 (968837)
      Because now I can wardrive for power. Or, maybe I could drive a bumper-car on a road filled with these things.
      • by Culture20 (968837)

        Because now I can wardrive for power. Or, maybe I could drive a bumper-car on a road filled with these things.

        Again... Wasn't trying to troll. I was joking about the wardriving for power, but I was serious about the road. People have been complaining about batteries in electric cars, and alternatives like cable-cars leave power lines dangling all over the road. Wirelessly powered mini-cars might be a good option.

    • It's not a replacement for batteries, it's a replacement for cables. Right now, even battery-powered devices need cables once the charge in the battery is used up. I'd love wireless power, to be able to ditch the rat's nest of cables I have everywhere going to every appliance and device. Unfortunately, I would guess that wireless power technologies would generally be (a) inefficient; (b) unreliable; (c) dangerous; or (d) some combination of the above.

      • It's not dangerous (you can set the field strengths below the allowed limits, which are pretty conservative anyway).

        It is a *bit* inefficient. Wireless are about 30-70% efficient or so. For low power items like cell phones or Ipods that doesn't matter- these devices use very small amounts of power, so inefficiency is not such a big deal (actually batteries are only about 80% efficient anyway).

        There's no reason why it would be unreliable; actually it could well be more reliable as there's no connectors or po

    • by Chyeld (713439)

      SAMPLE APPLICATION:

      So when I get home today, I have a 'recharging' station where everything from my Wiimotes to my iPod get set so they can be plugged in and recharged. Each item has its own charger, with accompanying wall wart, and its own cord. I've attempted, in the past, to come up with 'stylist' ways over hiding this mess. LifeHacker had has many articles on building 'pretty' recharging stations, but nothing I've tried comes close to looking like anything more than a high tech tentacle monster attempti

  • by Lev13than (581686) on Monday June 22, 2009 @01:37PM (#28425183) Homepage
    Did they ensure that the iPod speakers were properly shielded against RDF interference? Now that Jobs is getting his strength back, I fully expect that Apple devices will discard with batteries completely and just feed off his sheer willpower.
  • Efficiency? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by juanergie (909157) <superjuanelo@gmail.com> on Monday June 22, 2009 @01:43PM (#28425303) Homepage Journal

    Anybody familiar with the efficiency of this process? What fraction of the wattage is lost during transfer?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Nikola Tesla and that crazy discovery of wireless energy transfer. Next time you power up your gizmo (via AC to DC conversion) raise a glass to the man who started it all!

  • Wasted Energy (Score:4, Interesting)

    by wjousts (1529427) on Monday June 22, 2009 @01:46PM (#28425365)
    So in this era of concern about energy supplies, we have a new way to charge our phones that is less efficient and will waste a ton of energy. But at least we won't trip over any cables.
    • how much energy are we saving by not manufacturing and eventually disposing of those cables?

      Also keep in mind that it's 80% efficiency at distance, I'm sure it's higher at close range (eg: a charge plate on your night stand that your phone sits pretty much directly on) and once the technology is being mass produced, just like every other product on the planet improvements will be made to improve it's efficiency over time.

      just because it's not perfect RIGHT NOW doesn't mean it wont be, but making it RI
      • by wjousts (1529427)

        Well, that's a fair point on manufacture and eventual disposal of cables, but those are one time charges, so the whether or not it balances out in the end will depend on the lifetime of the device in question, something that is disturbingly short in many devices. Probably a far more efficient solution would be standards for chargers so that you don't need a new charger for every device.

        The fact is that this will never be as efficient as using a cable unless you can change the laws of physics. It'll have som

      • by rs79 (71822)

        Capacative inductance isn't exacly new. Around here some guy (no, not me, I'm crazy not stupid) that took two 50 gallon drums, wrapped them with two miles of thick copper wire and put them at the end of his property near some electric transmission wires. Then he ran wires from them to his grow op.

        It took Ontario Hydro about 2 weeks to find him and bust his ass.

        Point is you could probably at least charge an ipod if you live close to transmission lines.

  • I read about this sort of thing awhile ago. http://www.pwrmat.com/ [pwrmat.com] There would be some nifty applications, you could build this sort of power distribution system into a wall. Then you just have to be within the proximity of the distributor. It would primarily be a convince/lazy thing, but at least you wouldn't have to worry about your kid putting a fork in a wall socket. Then again by doing that you could be removing a natural selection factor and end up with even more stupid people that otherwise would h
    • by vlm (69642)

      at least you wouldn't have to worry about your kid putting a fork in a wall socket.

      Adding up all my wireless devices, a hundred watts delivered might be a power level that would be useful to me. Less than that, don't bother, more than that... read on for why that would be bad.

      So, at 20% efficient, my 100 watts delivered, dissipates 400 watts into heat. I'm guessing a surface area of a square foot or so. It'll be a nice space heater on 24 hours a day. Not so bad in northern climates in the winter. Not so good in the summer. A couple hundred watts with no ventilation, lay some papers

    • by hedwards (940851)
      Lazy is one aspect, but the main draw is that these sorts of devices are meant to power multiple different types of gadgets and to use less power when just plugged in.

      And when we get a standardized option available manufacturers wouldn't have to include a charger because we'd be able to use the same one that we're using for most of our other devices.
    • by kimvette (919543)

      It wouldn't be a lazy thing. It would mean I wouldn't have to bring a cellphone, external HDD, laptop, PDA, camera, and laptop charger/power supply with me. One charger would handle it all. This means when I travel I can pack significantly lighter, draw less suspicion from "Security Theater" "cast members" ;) (yes, I am equating Homeland Security to Mickey Mouse), and having need of only one type of charger, it would be harder to forget the wrong one. If I needed to buy one after forgetting the one-size-fit

  • by Animats (122034) on Monday June 22, 2009 @01:57PM (#28425561) Homepage

    There are at least four schemes for short-range wireless power transmission around. This needs to be standardized so it can be deployed.

    The very short range ones, which couple a tabletop pad to a device on it, would be most useful. All the little stuff that needs recharging should be on the same system, with recharging pads in bedroom, office, hotel room, car, airline tray table, Starbucks, etc. Unless the players get together and agree on a standard, this is going nowhere.

  • http://www.powercastco.com/ [powercastco.com]

    True Wireless Power

    Powercast recognizes there are several alternatives available for powering devices without the use of wires, each with different addressable markets. The alternative methods may seem similar on the surface, however, they offer limited solutions. Powercast is the only company with the technology and component-level products to deliver continuous charging, and provide its capability at a scalable distance.

    They even won a best of CES 2007 award from CNET:

    http:// [cnet.com]

  • Tesla would be so proud, many years later we are finally honing and putting to use technology that was before it's time.
  • The New Palm Pre does this now, just not across a large distance. The Pre has the alternate charger that you just place your Pre on (no wires to hook up or plug in to the Pre itself) and it charges through the back of the phone. Pretty cool, actually.

  • As a long time listener of Garage Logic on AM1500 (I only had AM in my car growing up, go fig) they frequently refer to a guy named Samer (sp?). He had a theory that the reason people, as a whole, have lost it, is that all the electromagnetic noise and radiation we have created litterally is frying out brain's ability to function normally.

    With all this talk about wireless charging and what I see in the world, I am starting to wonder if this Samer theory has legs... and if so what are the implications on hum

  • When I was a kid, I had an electric toothbrush that charged via induction. Not the same thing this article is about but it seemed like magic at the time. Set the plastic toothbrush in its plastic base with no metallic contacts on either and it would charge. I was just a kid but even I knew you needed conductive material to conduct electricity and plastic wasn't conductive. (I thought my grandpa was pulling my leg and taking the battery out and charging it at night while I was asleep.)

  • Make it cheap enough and combine this with cheap electronic paper and we could have store aisles stocked with animated labels on anything big enough to carry a receiving antenna.

    If you think walking with your child down the gauntlet that is the cereal aisle is bad now...

  • I can imagine a dish or plate on top of your dresser where you can throw your ipod, phone etc at night and it charges without having to plug it in.

  • Hmmm. Resonant coupling, magnetic fields, wireless power transmission, where have I heard this before [wikipedia.org]?

  • So here is what I imagine. You know how a generator works, right? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electrical_generator [wikipedia.org] Spinning copper wire around a shaft generating a current. And something has to spin the shaft.

    With this, the idea is that the generator is something resonating. e.g. It is just moving back and forth. So you make these very small, and put them inline with a battery. If you come within a resonate field, your batteries are automatically charged.

    There is a lot of waste. It's never

  • Nothing new here (Score:4, Informative)

    by kpainter (901021) on Monday June 22, 2009 @02:41PM (#28426233)
    A company I worked for was charging the batteries in medical implants in this manner 10 years ago. In fact, the implant's charge coil is inside its Titanium case. The magnetic field goes right through the case. The charger had a class E amplifier. It worked very well. I would not doubt if this company already has a patent on this technique.
    • by IorDMUX (870522)
      This wireless charging/powering is by no means a new technique. My masters thesis [ohiolink.edu] included plenty of material and research on this topic, and I was referencing papers on wireless powering [springerlink.com] for implants as far back as the 70's. The class-E amplifier driving an inductive coil resonantly tuned with a receiving coil is the standard architecture used by decades.

      I'm confused at the submitter's hailing 'resonant coupling' as a (seemingly) recent advance, as resonant coupling is simply what happens whenever a t
    • These guys developed the same technology too. They have released commercial products, demoed and won awards at many trade expos and you can even order a developer kit:

      http://www.powercastco.com/ [powercastco.com]

      It's amazing the amount of unfounded disbelief and misunderstanding of this technology on this thread.

  • They've recreated the technology in my rechargable toothbrush! This is a true breakthrough. I can't wait to see what's next! Maybe a wireless communications device? Or a horseless carriage? Oh, the wonders of the modern scientist!

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