I hate cords.
I mean, I really, really hate cords.
Being a gadget fiend means that my desk is cluttered with power cords, ac-adapters and audio/video cables. Since a simple pair of wall plugs doesn’t really satisfy my addiction to electronics, surge-protectors and various other adapters fill the void.
But our friends at MIT may soon put this all in the past.
For years, teams of researchers have worked towards methods of delivering electricity without the use of copper wires. They had failed.
The most well known method originally tried involved electromagnetic radiation. This involved transmitting electricity in the same fashion antennas shoot FM radio waves across cities and to your stereo. The problem with this is that the power transmitted flies all over the place, most of it ending up wasted in space. Scientists have attempted to make this more efficient using lasers, but this requires a line of site between the piece of machinery producing the laser, and the gadget receiving the power. This is more or less unusable in the real world as it is dangerous and more of an inconvenience than cords.
A team made up of individuals from several departments within MIT have come up with a new approach, calling it WiTricity. In an experiment, the team lit a 60W light bulb wirelessly from a power source seven feet away. Even more impressive, the team stood in the middle of the source and the bulb, demonstrating their method’s ability to deliver electricity wirelessly even through an obstructed path.
How does this work?
Magnetically coupled resonance.
MIT explained some of the extremely complicated physics behind WiTricity using an analog of wine glasses and opera singers.
“Imagine a room with 100 identical wine glasses, each filled with wine up to a different level, so they all have different resonant frequencies. If an opera singer sings a sufficiently loud single note inside the room, a glass of the corresponding frequency might accumulate sufficient energy to even explode, while not influencing the other glasses. In any system of coupled resonators there often exists a so-called “strongly coupled” regime of operation. If one ensures to operate in that regime in a given system, the energy transfer can be very efficient.”
According to researchers, this could not only eliminate cords that charge the batteries in popular household electronics such as ipods, laptops, and cellphones, but eliminate batteries all together.
So Energizer and Duracell might be pissed, but I am pumped. Household WiTricity is still several years away from realistic use, but this is a huge step in the evolution of technology which would undoubtedly change the way we live.