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Power Wireless Networking Communications Hardware Technology

Disney Develops Room With 'Ubiquitous Wireless' Charging (cnet.com) 110

An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNET: The scientific and tech arm of the entertainment giant Disney has built a prototype room with "ubiquitous wireless power delivery" that allows several devices to be charged wirelessly in much the way we get internet access through Wi-Fi. By tapping quasistatic cavity resonance, researchers discovered they could generate magnetic fields inside specially built structures to deliver kilowatts of power to mobile devices inside that structure. "This new innovative method will make it possible for electrical power to become as ubiquitous as WiFi," Alanson Sample, associate lab director and principal research scientist at Disney Research, told Phys.org. "This in turn could enable new applications for robots and other small mobile devices by eliminating the need to replace batteries and wires for charging." All you have to do is be in the room and your device will start charging automatically. And depending on where you are in the room, delivery efficiency can be as high as 95 percent, researchers said. There is one potential issue: you have to not mind being in a room constructed mostly of aluminum, that includes the walls, ceiling and floor. There's a copper pole in the middle of the room, and 15 discrete high quality factor capacitors that separate the magnetic field from the electric field.
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Disney Develops Room With 'Ubiquitous Wireless' Charging

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  • by turkeydance ( 1266624 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2017 @06:55PM (#53914263)
    just sayin'.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I, for one, would be wearing tin foil underpants.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Oh! I bet you'll get a charge out of that!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 22, 2017 @07:05PM (#53914329)

    My energy filled room at home is a little smaller, so I only use it for heating up burritos.

  • Only one word.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 22, 2017 @07:22PM (#53914411)

    Tesla

    • Yeah, wasn't Nick working on this like, oh, a century plus ago? About the time he designed the generators for Niagara Falls?
      • Tessa wasn't working on it. It worked. He used a loop of wire around the room at 1000 Hz. Couple this to a device using this frequency converted to a D.C. rectifier, charging your device.
        • I was aware of the lightbulb trick. Wasn't he also working on a way to tap into the magnetic field of the Earth itself, and use that to power devices? Possibly a conspiracy theory, but the story I heard was that when he was asked by his backer "And how would we meter that?" he replied "we won't, it'll be free" , and the funding was cut off.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    ... a room constructed mostly of aluminum ...

    So no wi-fi or cell signal while the phone is charging: I assume the magnetic power field would silence any radio repeater inside the room. Can the aluminium be a quarter of milimetre thickness; not sheeting but not al-foil either?

  • by dlleigh ( 313922 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2017 @07:32PM (#53914469)

    Robert Heinlein's "Waldo": https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

  • by Anonymous Coward

    You guys test it out and let us know how well it works.

  • by Gravis Zero ( 934156 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2017 @07:43PM (#53914525)

    Obviously this "delivery efficiency" number is the efficiency after converting the power to RF and before it's converted back into electricity. So basically, 95% is the maximum amount of RF that is intended to hit your phone's charging coil actually will.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    "This enables power to be transmitted efficiently to receiving coils that operate at the same resonant frequency as the magnetic fields."

    So, there would have to be a standard or your phone charger only works at Disney.
    My phone didn't come with receiving coils at that freq, You can just add that to your iPhone right?!? Are these 'coils' flat i.e. just how much battery life do we sacrifice to recharge wirelessly.

    Aren't Aluminum rooms with copper poles in them going to have to become a LOT more common for this

  • by bobbied ( 2522392 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2017 @08:03PM (#53914609)

    Don't take any device that couples magnetic energy in there. No credit cards, no spinning hard disks, a lot of electronic devices will be toasted upon entry and should you happen to have any leftover metal parts from some past surgery (staples, clips, knees or hips) you don't likely want to try and enter either... Figure on having similar entry restrictions as MRI machines, including the faraday shielded room for this thing.. I wonder what a set of wire rimmed glasses will do in there, in fact anything that approximates a loop of wire could have serious issues if it's conductive.

    Basically they put you INSIDE a huge electromagnet with fairly high flux values. They resonate the whole thing to a specific frequency by inserting some capacitance, then size their collector (which is still larger than most cell phones) can collect power from the magnetic fields. Room size will be limited, basically because of the power density required to get useful power transfer is still really high and it will approach unsafe levels as the room gets larger.

    Not to mention... I dare you to grab the center pole.... It's going to have more than hundred amps flowing though it at RF (1.3 Mhz) frequencies that, despite what they say in their "safety" calculations, sure seems to be at power levels that can cause serious RF burns...

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      Don't take any device that couples magnetic energy in there. No credit cards, no spinning hard disks, a lot of electronic devices will be toasted upon entry and should you happen to have any leftover metal parts from some past surgery (staples, clips, knees or hips) you don't likely want to try and enter either... Figure on having similar entry restrictions as MRI machines, including the faraday shielded room for this thing.. I wonder what a set of wire rimmed glasses will do in there, in fact anything that approximates a loop of wire could have serious issues if it's conductive.

      Basically they put you INSIDE a huge electromagnet with fairly high flux values. They resonate the whole thing to a specific frequency by inserting some capacitance, then size their collector (which is still larger than most cell phones) can collect power from the magnetic fields. Room size will be limited, basically because of the power density required to get useful power transfer is still really high and it will approach unsafe levels as the room gets larger.

      Not to mention... I dare you to grab the center pole.... It's going to have more than hundred amps flowing though it at RF (1.3 Mhz) frequencies that, despite what they say in their "safety" calculations, sure seems to be at power levels that can cause serious RF burns...

      Exactly.

    • One interesting application for this: My Garage.

      Wouldn't it be nice to pull into the garage, go inside, and the garage charges my car. Nothing to plug in...

      • Wouldn't it be nice to pull into the garage, go inside, and the garage charges my car. Nothing to plug in...

        There are much safer and cheaper ways to do this than to turn your entire garage into a high-power magnet. E.g., two plates in the floor that match two contacts on the bottom of your car to provide charging power. Or a coil in the floor that aligns with a coil on the car for a more focused transfer of energy.

        Or drive a regular car. When I pull into my garage there is nothing to plug in. I have a patent on that no-plug system.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Hognoxious ( 631665 )

          Or insert a goddam plug. OMG, that takes 30 seconds!

          Lazy fat entitled millenial fucking pansy hiptards.

          • Or insert a goddam plug. OMG, that takes 30 seconds!

            Lazy fat entitled millenial fucking pansy hiptards.

            30 seconds? Why you giving him that long. You are likely going to wait longer for the garage door opener to open or close than it takes to plug in most electric cars.

      • Why do you need to turn your garage into a huge electromagnet to do that? Also, do you have ANY idea how much power that EV of yours actually wants to suck in and what this system is safely capable of? If you want to charge your car with a 15A 110V extension cord, you will do better than what this thing can deliver. If you have a high power charger that can recharge your battery in a couple of hours, this system won't be able to deliver the power your car wants at all..
    • Yes, but there could be pole dancing!

  • by TeknoHog ( 164938 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2017 @08:03PM (#53914611) Homepage Journal

    capacitors that separate the magnetic field from the electric field.

    What the actual flux?

  • https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/major-cell-phone-radiation-study-reignites-cancer-questions/

  • Wouldn't installing a Tesla coil have a similar effect?
    • by guruevi ( 827432 )

      It practically is a Tesla coil in the middle of the room, except it's not shooting off streamers, the electric seems to be conducted by the walls.

      Efficiency is only 95% in a very small portion of the room (around the pole), for the rest it goes down to ~40%. So yeah, you'll be heating it up just like a regular transformer.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Does this mean that it will continuously charge your pacemaker even if you do not want it to? What about the metal (platinum or titanium) bolts and wiring holding your previously broken bones together, built in leg warmers?
    Definitely excited for this technology, hope they can simplify it down and make it practical since I am guessing there is not good cellular reception inside a metal room. An obvious application for this would be inside aeroplanes to reduce the numbers of wires installed to power the sea

  • by subk ( 551165 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2017 @09:06PM (#53914853)
    A century ago, Nikola Tesla was convinced he could do this over great distances using broadcast towers (for lack of a better term). Due to what essentially amounts to corporate sabotage of his endeavors, we never got to find out if he was right.
    • "corporate sabotage" <------- I'm going to use that excuse when my startup fails.

      Physics says there is no way he could have done it without huge power losses, so basically you're hoping he had invented new physics but hadn't told anyone about it. Which would be cool.
      • by subk ( 551165 )
        Of course what little we know about his work is also part speculation, so I consider Tesla's esoteric & unrealized works a mere curiosity. Meanwhile, the tinfoil hat crowd takes any rumor of Tesla's success as if it were written in stone by divine actor(s) and delivered to Moses on a mountain. It's all somewhat paradoxical; on the one hand he developed real-world, usable tech like alternating current motors and generators, while on the other hand claiming that he knew these things because he could tap
        • while on the other hand claiming that he knew these things because he could tap into a universal, ethereal body of knowledge that exists in another dimension.

          That's interesting, where did he come up with those kinds of thoughts? How did he learn to tap into the other dimension?

          • by subk ( 551165 )
            Nobody knows. We just have quotes like this:

            “My brain is only a receiver, in the Universe there is a core from which we obtain knowledge, strength and inspiration. I have not penetrated into the secrets of this core, but I know that it exists.”
            -- Nikola Tesla
            • That sounds like some kind of shamanistic stuff. Get in a trance, travel to the center of the world, get taught while there. Or he was hitting the mescaline. Searching online, it seems like Tesla was extreme in anti-drugs, so probably not. However, his homeland of Serbia seems to have been steeped in shamanistic tradition [wikipedia.org], so he could have picked it up there. Someone went wild on that wikipedia page, there's a lot of information.
          • quote>That's interesting, where did he come up with those kinds of thoughts? How did he learn to tap into the other dimension?

            He was born that way. I don't know that it came from any other dimension or anything, but the schematic for the practical production of AC current came to him in a vision while walking on the beach.

    • Even longer ago than that, Fermat was convinced that he had proof no three positive integers a, b, and c satisfy the equation a^n + b^n = c^n for any integer value of n greater than 2.
  • Apparently he had a coil about 8 feet off the floor along the walls. Another coil placed at the same level would get current induced in it by the alternating current circulating in the loop. He published the work about resonant inductive coupling in the years 1891, [tfcbooks.com] 1892 [tfcbooks.com] and 1893 [tfcbooks.com]. (Links stolen shamelessly from wikipedia.)
  • by ChrisMaple ( 607946 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2017 @10:08PM (#53915107)
    Get a charge in a room with a central metal pole.
    Bring on the dancer.
  • Inside the battery (Score:4, Interesting)

    by holophrastic ( 221104 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2017 @10:21PM (#53915163)

    So, aluminum walls, alluminum floors, copper pole in the middle -- I do believe that's actually a battery, using the air as the electrolyte. I think I might be staying out of that room.

  • by JustAnotherOldGuy ( 4145623 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2017 @10:23PM (#53915171)

    "you have to not mind being in a room constructed mostly of aluminum, that includes the walls, ceiling and floor."

    Which means you also have to not mind being in a room where you're bombarded with lots of intense electrostatic and electromagnetic fields, which I doubt is good for anyone, especially infants and toddlers. Close proximity to electrostatic or electromagnetic fields on a long-term basis is NOT good for you, period.

    • Close proximity to electrostatic or electromagnetic fields on a long-term basis is NOT good for you, period.

      Really?

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        Close proximity to electrostatic or electromagnetic fields on a long-term basis is NOT good for you, period.

        Really?

        Yup, really.

        There are three possibilities:

        1) exposure to strong electrostatic or electromagnetic fields is no effect whatsoever on humans.

        2) exposure to strong electrostatic or electromagnetic fields has a negative or deleterious effect on humans.

        3) exposure to strong electrostatic or electromagnetic fields has a positive or beneficial effect on humans.

        Which one is most likely? Remember, you're exposing a living creature to some strong (albeit non-ionizing) radiation.

        What's the chance that it does have some

        • You should apply your brilliant scientific methodology to the practice of injecting live viruses and mercury into infants and toddlers. You could start a new movement!
      • My father worked at a power station, they used to rotate staff through duties in the switching yard (where they ramp up the voltage for transmission along power lines) otherwise they would start getting sick. You could walk through the yard with a neon tube and it would glow faintly. So no, I don't think I would like being inside this room.
  • What??? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by JustAnotherOldGuy ( 4145623 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2017 @10:30PM (#53915191)

    "discrete high quality factor capacitors that separate the magnetic field from the electric field."

    What the fuck? That's NOT the way this shit works. This is utter nonsense.

    For the record, capacitors DO NOT "separate the magnetic field from the electric field". No. No no no.

    This is so wrong I don't even know where to begin.

  • Name? (Score:4, Funny)

    by kackle ( 910159 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2017 @11:41PM (#53915415)
    Are they calling the exhibit "The Cancer Of Tomorrow"?
  • kilowatts of power to mobile devices inside that structure

    Kilowatts? Now any phone can be like a Samsung!

  • all users were found to be left brained could no longer have creative thoughts.
  • They are building a battery that you can walk into.
  • If you go to a Disney theme park, what do you do most of the day?

    Wait in lines!

    Why not charge people's phones while they wait in lines.
  • www.craphound.com/makers/download/
  • I think this idea is stupid and dangerous. Just image you have your entire house covered with this kind of wilreless plug.

    With ordinary appliances you can be fairly certain they're safe if you pull the plug. With a gizmo that taps a wireless power source in your house you can never be.

    If for some reason you want to do something to a device that's less than safe if it's plugged in you run a risk. If you want the device to be guaranteed shut off. e.g. because you want to clean it under the tap, or because

    • I'm going to show my age here... but I haven't been happy since mechanical on/off switches became passé.

      I don't want an 'access standby' button, I want an OFF button, damnit.

      It is ridiculous that if I want an actual off button I have to either unplug the device (or pull the battery), or have it powered through a power bar that (thankfully) still has a power switch on it that does something.

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