Saturday, February 14, 2009

Somewhere, Nikola is smiling

And probably thinking, I told you so.
THE FIRST WIRELESS POWERING SYSTEM to market is an inductive device, much like the one Tesla saw in his dreams, but a lot smaller. It looks like a mouse pad and can send power through the air, over a distance of up to a few inches. A powered coil inside that pad creates a magnetic field, which as Faraday predicted, induces current to flow through a small secondary coil that's built into any portable device, such as a flashlight, a phone or a BlackBerry. The electrical current that then flows in that secondary coil charges the device's onboard rechargeable battery. (That iPhone in your pocket has yet to be outfitted with this tiny coil, but, as we'll see, a number of companies are about to introduce products that are.)

The practical benefit of this approach is huge. You can drop any number of devices on the charging pad, and they will recharge -- wirelessly. No more tangle of power cables or jumble of charging stations. What's more, because you are invisible to the magnetic fields created by the system, no electricity will flow into you if you stray between device and pad. Nor are there any exposed "hot" metal connections. And the pads are smart: Their built-in coils are driven by integrated circuits, which know if the device sitting on them is authorized to receive power, or if it needs power at all. So you won't charge your car keys. Or overcharge your flashlight.
Read the whole thing.  It's not only a fascinating subject, but is well-written.  Read it all the way to the end.


  1. What a wonderful achievement. This renews my faith in the potential for humanity.

  2. Uh, and just exactly *how* is this smart pad going to stop charging your flashlight while still charging your cell phone and not charging your car keys if they're all sitting on the pad?

    The devices are still going to need their own regulation circuitry to only charge when needed.