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Wireless Power Consortium Pushes For Standard

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the how-about-a-wide-range-of-standards dept.

Power 221

Slatterz writes "We've already heard about wireless power before, but now we're a step closer to throwing away our power cables and chargers. A consortium of eight companies has launched an initiative to develop a wireless power standard. The drive was announced at the first Wireless Power Consortium conference at the Hong Kong Science Park yesterday. Most consumer electronic devices require a different charger, and the resulting tangle of wires and bulky devices is 'ugly, frustrating and inconvenient to use,' the group said. 'Wireless power charging takes away the need for wires and connectors. You simply drop your mobile phone, game device, electric shaver on the charging station and the battery is recharged,' explained Satoru Nishimura, senior manager at Sanyo."

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FP? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26166759)

Sweeeeet. Where did the GNAA go, btw?

But... (3, Insightful)

fxkr (1343139) | more than 5 years ago | (#26166767)

Isn't this "wireless power" stuff just a terrible waste of energy?

Re:But... (1)

YayaY (837729) | more than 5 years ago | (#26166815)

Yes, off course. Standard plug and voltage would be much better. Especially for laptops...

Re:But... (5, Interesting)

Skrapion (955066) | more than 5 years ago | (#26167447)

On the other hand, MIT has managed to produce wireless power at 75% and even 90% efficiency, either of which would be more efficient than your laptop's power pack. [cnn.com]

Re:But... (4, Funny)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 5 years ago | (#26167853)

FTA: 90% efficiency when three feet apart?

I've got a cold fusion rector you might be interested in...

Re:But... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26166863)

Yes, and don't forget that the world is in something of a power-crunch as well. You would've thought that after this year's spike in energy prices, people would've gotten the hint about more efficient systems saving them money.

Sadly, this looks to be a case of form over functionality. Still, I know I would never buy one of these. Saving myself a foot or two of cabling simply isn't worth an increased energy bill.

Re:But... (5, Interesting)

Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) | more than 5 years ago | (#26167067)

Sadly, this looks to be a case of form over functionality. Still, I know I would never buy one of these. Saving myself a foot or two of cabling simply isn't worth an increased energy bill.

There are other advantages.

  1. It lessens the number of connections needed to the outside, increasing the ability to weatherproof (my waterproof electic toothbrush uses such a system).
  2. If it was standard, I certainly could see paying a premium so that my cell phone/mp3 player/PDA/e-book reader/shaver, all low power devices, could share one charger. (My computers, not so much.)
  3. Depending on the range, I could be paying a premium so I never have to remember to charge my devices. For instance, if it could cover my whole couch, then I could charge whenever I watch TV or play video games. And some devices (wireless video game controllers) live in that region, so that would be great.
  4. Lastly, the efficency is likely to increase. Creating a standard now, before there are practical uses, is one of the few times it's possible to do so without competing companies pushing their pet standard.

Re:But... (0, Troll)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 5 years ago | (#26168177)

Depending on the range, I could be paying a premium so I never have to remember to charge my devices. For instance, if it could cover my whole couch, then I could charge whenever I watch TV or play video games. And some devices (wireless video game controllers) live in that region, so that would be great.

This is why the terrorists hate us and this is why we can't have nice things.

Re:But... (1)

ogdenk (712300) | more than 5 years ago | (#26167643)

Your whining about 10-25% loss in efficiency to run an 80 watt laptop. The impact on your electric bill would be negligible.

Why not dig that old Sun SPARC classic or 386 out of the closet because it's more power efficient than your desktop?

I love it when people here get all googly-eyed and excited over quad core machines with 1000 watt power supplies then whine about wireless power being an inefficient pipe dream.

I can't see this being marketed for pole->house electricity but for a wireless laptop/phone/pda charger I'll take the 10% hit. I wouldn't want to run a desktop on it however.

Re:But... (5, Informative)

De Lemming (227104) | more than 5 years ago | (#26166899)

The Wikipedia article [wikipedia.org] talks about efficiencies between 40% and 80% for near field transmission. Indeed, that seems like a serious waste just for the convenience of not having to plug in your device...

FYI, far field transmissions using microwave can reach an efficiency of 95%, but I don't think you want such a beam in your house :-)

Re:But... (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 5 years ago | (#26166989)

But... With one way to charge your stuff you may be able to get a better quality one. Those AC to DC converters take power even when they are not charging anything. If you make a nice near field transmission system. With say with a physical on off switch or a weight activated switch you can save power from having all those AC DC plugged in (unplugging them when they are not in use is really to much of a hassle for some locations to even consider making people switch).

Re:But... (2, Insightful)

Valdrax (32670) | more than 5 years ago | (#26167961)

How exactly does the power go from AC in the wall to the near field without going through a DC converter? How do you ensure that is not just sucking power out of the wall?

Transformers are efficient (4, Insightful)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 5 years ago | (#26167031)

Isn't this "wireless power" stuff just a terrible waste of energy?

Transformers (not the Hasbro sort) are basically two adjacent coils, with the difference in the number of windings on each side determining the voltage step-up or step-down.

Here you have what is basically a transformer, just with the coils moved further away from each other. A 1:1 step ratio in a transformer is pretty efficient.

You're not wasting electricity spraying electrons in the air like a water sprinkler, there has to be a circuit before potential can be moved from one coil to the other. Electronics can keep idle current to a minimum. Where's the problem?

Re:Transformers are efficient (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26167073)

The 40% to 80% efficiencies of the proposed devices. No transformer comes with a 60% to 20% loss.

You're wasting a crapton of power just so you wouldn't have to plug a device in. But to get anything approaching acceptable efficiencies the object has to be no more than a few inches away from the source, may as well plug it in and get 95% efficiency.

Re:Transformers are efficient (3, Interesting)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 5 years ago | (#26167147)

Umm, no let's not plug it in.

In time this can be improved above 80% efficiency. It's not about "may as well plug it in", it's also about space constraints, plugs, etc. This can remove the need for a lot of wiring and is not a new technology by far.

People have used mice [a4tech.com] (not the animals) to do this for years.

Not to mention this could force standardizing of connections thus disabling companies from having proprietary connectors to connect things.

Shaver's plug gets bust? Would be nice to replace the plug and not the whole damn thing, etc. This bypasses that entirely.

Re:Transformers are efficient (4, Insightful)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 5 years ago | (#26167987)

Shaver's plug gets bust? Would be nice to replace the plug and not the whole damn thing, etc. This bypasses that entirely.

Sure. Let's just use this other power adapter from something else. With a little extra force, see, it fits fine. OK, now just to plug it in...

BLAMMO!!!!

Wife comes running in and sees the disaster and, being a good American, calls a lawyer.

This is why power adapters of different voltages, different capacities and different functionalities are designed with unique connectors. The intent is to keep you from causing problems for the company via lawsuits. Lawsuits caused directly by your ability to connect two mismatched devices together. Unless this risk can be eliminated, you are not going to get rid of every device having a different and unique connector.

Now it might be nice if there was an ISO standard for connectors (like there is for mains power connections) so there would be a few thousand "standard" connectors for every given voltage, regulation mode, current and AC or DC variety. This would solve everyone's problem, wouldn't it? Until you attempt to get everyone behind the idea of the few thousand "standard" connectors. That are all unique and different from today's non-standard connectors.

Re:Transformers are efficient (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26167321)

Two Coils joined with a Core. No Core, and the efficiency goes way down

Re:Transformers are efficient (4, Interesting)

Bearhouse (1034238) | more than 5 years ago | (#26167509)

Many people leave their charging transformers plugged in, even when not charging their appliance.

Since most of these chargers are cheap, they are not only highly inefficient when charging (how hot does your laptop power supply get?), but also consume power when not doing anything useful.

Would need to factor these things in to properly judge efficiency of near-field charging, which can get above 80% if I remember correctly...

Re:Transformers are efficient (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 5 years ago | (#26167903)

"these chargers are cheap" - you nailed it.

Do you think this wireless charger will be cheap? How about we mandate a standard size plug and smarter chargers instead? You'd need less chargers so they wouldn't cost more overall.

And ... if we made the connector a decent one we wouldn't be fiddling around with all those stupid, fragile microscopic connectors the 'phone people are foisting on us.

If you want to save the planet, let's start making things that last.

Re:Transformers are efficient (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26167915)

Most transformers used for power electronics use a core of iron or steel connecting the two coils. They are efficient as the core is of high permeability and the flux is kept within the core - reducing the magnetising current in the coil. Reducing the magnetising current reduces resistive losses in the coils (often referred to as IR^2 losses, after the formula used to calculate them).

So with no core between the coils (an air core) the current needs to be higher, losses will be greater, and the transformer will be much less efficient than a standard transformer.

Or of course a wired solution, which would be much more practical given that this only works at close range anyway.

Re:Transformers are efficient (1)

BovineSpirit (247170) | more than 5 years ago | (#26168169)

But in a transformer the coils are very close to each other, and are wrapped around the same lump of iron. With the devices the coils and cores are separate. Magnetic fields decay exponentially so even a small gap will reduce the transmitted power by a fair bit. There seems to be various proposed methods to get around this problem, but none of them seem to be significantly better than the others.

Interesting point about electronics reducing the idle currents, as this would be another issue.

Re:But... (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 5 years ago | (#26167055)

They're talking about a near-contact charging station. That can be pretty efficient -- as others pointed out, a transformer can be VERY efficient and this is basically the same thing.

Note that it's distinct from the charge-your-laptop-across-the-room style of wireless power, which IS very inefficient.

Re:But... (1)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 5 years ago | (#26167185)

Note that it's distinct from the charge-your-laptop-across-the-room style of wireless power, which IS very inefficient.

Anything topical or substantial available from old notes on Wardenclyffe? I mean the Tesla notes, not the liner notes. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wardenclyffe_Tower/ [wikipedia.org]

Re:But... (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 5 years ago | (#26167373)

I doubt it. This style of charging station is just a transformer except that the two halves are in different cases.

Wardenclyffe Tower was designed basically as a radio transmission tower. It was supposed to demonstrate transmission of electricity over long distances through the air, which is exactly what radio transmitters do. For an example of widespread deployment, find one of those little transistor radios that can power themselves from the received radio signal.

Re:But... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26168103)

My impression was that the radio tower was designed to actually charge a layer of the atmosphere thus allowing for a large reciever to pick it up anywhere in the world, this is not the same as radio waves which don't interact with the atmosphere. One of the reasons he discontinued this idea was the possibility that it could affect the weather and human thought. This is definitely not the same method of transmission as in the article.

Why not just standardize the cables? (5, Insightful)

PolarBearFire (1176791) | more than 5 years ago | (#26166775)

Wireless power is only practical in short ranges anyway. With standardized cables I wouldn't have drawerfuls of power cables.

Re:Why not just standardize the cables? (2, Informative)

Anthony_Cargile (1336739) | more than 5 years ago | (#26166977)

Because then the OEMs and hardware companies would be losing money due to consumers buying the same cable for their product from another, cheaper, company thus losing profit. If Dell sold replacement power supplies for their laptops for ~$20.00, and say since the cable is a standard HP sells the same one for $15.00, Dell would be losing some profit unless they change the connector on the cable to only fit their hardware, hence the "drawer full of cables" we all seem to have (except those in the A/V business, where this is almost never the case).

Despite this, however, other companies still tend to sell proprietary cables for other hardware anyway, I just a replacement power cable for my laptop from an obscure (yet cheaper) eBay store for half the price my laptop's OEM was selling it for.

But I agree, like current AC power cables for desktops, why can't laptops and other devices have the same standardized power cables? Think of ye olde motherboard molex connectors - there were 2 types, one pretty much entirely for floppies and the other for hard drives. The same could apply to power adapters, and save teh consumers time, stress, and drawer space. If every USB device had a different connector, my house would be insulated with wires right now :p.

Re:Why not just standardize the cables? (1)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 5 years ago | (#26167217)

Because then the OEMs and hardware companies would be losing money due to consumers buying the same cable for their product from another, cheaper, company thus losing profit.

Not to fear. The invisible rotting penis of the market will come along eventually and sort it all out.

Re:Why not just standardize the cables? (1)

cobraR478 (1416353) | more than 5 years ago | (#26167817)

Uhhhhh, apparently it is. Note that any standard that comes out of this is not developed or enforced by a government. Granted this would just be for wireless power, but I'm not here to blindly defend the free market. I just found it funny that you were insulting it immediately after reading a summary discussing something that might be good that was developed in a market system.

Re:Why not just standardize the cables? (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 5 years ago | (#26167807)

The cost of these things is around $2 today. It has almost nothing to do with making money off sales of adapters and EVERYTHING to do with people plugging the wrong adapter into some device.

You connect an 18 volt adapter to a cell phone and it fries the phone. You connect a 5 volt adapter to a notebook and it either does nothing or fries the adapter. In either case, there is a potential for fires and other liabilities. Just having it not work is enough for most manufacturers. You give people something that either will work or cannot be connected and you just reduced the likelyhood of (a) a support call or (b) a lawsuit.

The support calls are bad, but the lawsuits are much worse. Do you not believe that someone would sue because it was possible to connect the wrong adapter to some device and when this is done it would cause the device to burst into flames? Don't believe me? Connect 110VAC (or higher) to a cell phone and see what happens. If your average consumer could do this, someone would. And some lawyer would then get rich off suing the company that was dumb enough to make it possible.

This has almost nothing to do with making money off selling the adapters, which is almost a nusiance to most manufacturers. Which is why you can buy an OEM Dell power supply for $20 from China but buying from Dell will cost you $170. They don't really want to sell them at all, never mind they cost maybe $8 in quantity. Your cell phone charger is more like $2, but if you want to buy one from Motorola they will charge you $45. Again, they don't want to sell them at all.

And get all the devices to agree on a single power requirement so the same adapter could really be used for all of them? Unlikely. That would be a huge design constraint in some cases... in most of the others it would just limit the creativity of the designer. Good idea for notebooks? Sure. But it probably won't happen.

Re:Why not just standardize the cables? (1)

msuarezalvarez (667058) | more than 5 years ago | (#26168085)

How hard would it be to have one connector, say, per voltage?

Re:Why not just standardize the cables? (4, Informative)

Sabz5150 (1230938) | more than 5 years ago | (#26167287)

Wireless power is only practical in short ranges anyway. With standardized cables I wouldn't have drawerfuls of power cables.

Which is precisely what they're aiming for.

A standardized cable isn't gonna help you much when your mobile phone takes 5 volts to charge and your shaver or laptop takes 9 to 18. I imagine the technology would mimic proximity cards, you'd have a flat surface (say, a tabletop) and you'd sit your PDA, mobile, laptop, portable game system, etc. on it and depending on the number of windings in the receiving device and a small rectifier circuit, it would automatically receive the proper voltage.

AC electricity is fun.

Re:Why not just standardize the cables? (1)

Valdrax (32670) | more than 5 years ago | (#26167999)

A standardized cable isn't gonna help you much when your mobile phone takes 5 volts to charge and your shaver or laptop takes 9 to 18.

You know, if we were standardizing cables, there's absolutely no reason we can't create a very simple, low-power protocol for a multi-voltage transformer to query what kind of power a device needs. And there'd be no issues with trying to create a one size fits all solution for broadcasting power if you had a straight line between the power server and client.

Re:Why not just standardize the cables? (2, Funny)

jmerlin (1010641) | more than 5 years ago | (#26167295)

This is the obvious, logical, cheap, and easy solution. Putting aside the fact that you'd need transformers built into devices as most require different voltages.

But then again, these guys have been working around "energy fields" far too long, perhaps this is a side-effect we might want to be forewarned about?

Re:Why not just standardize the cables? (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 5 years ago | (#26167939)

Why is wireless better than a standardized docking station?

Seems to me a docking station would always be cheaper AND more efficient than a wireless setup.

The only difference to the user would be that you have to line it up neatly when you lay it on the charging pad. Would that inconvenience anybody?

I'd suggest tinfoil underpants... (5, Funny)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 5 years ago | (#26166777)

...but that might not be such a good idea.

Yeah... (3, Funny)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 5 years ago | (#26166987)

You've seen what happens to tinfoil in a Microwave, right?

Re:Yeah... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26167115)

whoosh.

Re:Yeah... (1)

Walzmyn (913748) | more than 5 years ago | (#26167323)

Your testicles give off focused microwave radiation?

Re:Yeah... (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#26167471)

Of course, he's one of the Micronuts!

Re:Yeah... (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 5 years ago | (#26167489)

What testicles? Oh, you mean those two things laying on ground all charred and smoking?

Re:Yeah... (1)

Valdrax (32670) | more than 5 years ago | (#26168017)

Like your family jewels do better in a microwave without tinfoil.

Re:I'd suggest tinfoil underpants... (1)

Anthony_Cargile (1336739) | more than 5 years ago | (#26167455)

Sounds fun when going through metal detectors. What is worse, the fact you set off a metal detector, the fact you set off a metal detector using tin foil underwear, stripping publicly to reveal the foil, or getting put in the looney bin while trying to explain why you're wearing said tin foil undergarments.

This website still sucks (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26166783)

I see you haven't fixed it yet. Get on it.

Mid Range Wireless (2, Insightful)

rockNme2349 (1414329) | more than 5 years ago | (#26166799)

Short range wireless power is alright, it makes charging a little easier, but the real revolution is going to be when an efficient method of mid-range wireless power is developed.

If you can get wireless power in an entire room then we can finally ditch the last cord to our laptops, which is what consumers are waiting for when they ask for wireless power. If you have to put the items on a tray, it is a little easier, but it might as well be a dock or a physical connection. If you have power to an entire room, your cell phone and mobile devices can charge in your pocket without you worrying, bringing the real convenience.

Re:Mid Range Wireless (4, Insightful)

jfeldredge (1008563) | more than 5 years ago | (#26166923)

Wireless power covering an entire room will have to wait until wireless devices' power requirements go low enough that the radiated energy won't be a hazard to the user. At the power levels currently used by laptops, the power source would have to emit enough energy that you would microwave-cook the user. The device described in this article is probably using short-range magnetic coupling, not radio waves; not a particular threat to health, but putting your laptop on top of the charger would probably scramble the hard drive.

Re:Mid Range Wireless (2, Interesting)

irae (1152885) | more than 5 years ago | (#26167005)

putting your laptop on top of the charger would probably scramble the hard drive.

With SSD that won't be a problem.

Re:Mid Range Wireless (1)

mrsquid0 (1335303) | more than 5 years ago | (#26167199)

The trick will be to find a frequency that does not excite any molecular bonds in substances that our bodies use.

Re:Mid Range Wireless (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 5 years ago | (#26167209)

Well, not quite.

The coils are designed grab a charge and pull it to it.
It's not like an explosion where the power simply radiates everywhere. That's what we have microwaves for and why they are shielded. If the SSD is in the path of the charge, it would be impacted by it (shielded or not), but otherwise it's not like this will go everywhere for short range. The electricity leaps towards the coils, essentially.

Long range is another game entirely, though.

Re:Mid Range Wireless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26166985)

If you have power to an entire room, your cell phone and mobile devices can charge in your pocket

What's more, not only those things in your pocket will get fried!

Re:Mid Range Wireless (1)

zmollusc (763634) | more than 5 years ago | (#26166995)

Sod your stupid cell phone and laptop! This would be super awesome for my toy helicopter!

Re:Mid Range Wireless (5, Interesting)

IorDMUX (870522) | more than 5 years ago | (#26167223)

For my Masters Thesis, I designed a wireless powering system for a fully implanted bio-monitoring device for a mouse running around, untethered, in a cage [ohiolink.edu] . Now, a mouse is actually quite small, so our implant had to be about the size of a U.S. dime (actually, a bit smaller). The mouse was never more than a few cm away from the cage floor, but could move around, stand up, roll over, etc., so we could not make the powering system very "directed" in nature. As a result, our optimized average power coupling efficiency we near 0.08% (Page 25, specs on Page 95), which was actually pretty good for the application. It did mean that our implant needed to be extremely low-power, however, involving all sorts of power supply optimizations (Chapter 3), MEMS sensors, and the like.)

The problem with trying to power your wireless devices anywhere in a room is similar, due to the fact that you can move around and change the orientation of your devices. As the ratio of power-receiving-antenna to "cage" is even lower, you are likely looking at even lower power efficiencies. Yes, you can perform all sorts of fractal antenna optimizations and the like, but, if you want to be able to receive power anywhere in the room, then you are limited by the laws of physics: If your powering system covers the whole room, your efficiency is limited by the simple ratio of the area of your receiving antenna in the plane parallel to the floor (or wherever you place your powering system) to the area of the powering antenna itself.

The recent demos of wireless power by Intel and others have all involved highly directed powering antennae, where moving the receiver even a small amount cuts off the power supply. Directed power does have its uses, however. Imagine medical implants that can be powered in a short time by placing a directed antenna on your skin each morning, or even wearing a battery pack on your belt with a directed antenna to power a device with a built in radio communicator. No (highly infectable) wires penetrate the skin, no surgery is necessary to replace batteries that run low, and, even in the worst cases, you should still be able to remove the battery back for a time to perform certain functions (exercising, bathing) without losing device functionality.

Re:Mid Range Wireless (1)

areusche (1297613) | more than 5 years ago | (#26167297)

Wirelessly powered rooms? Oh man I wouldn't have to deal with cables for lights, TVs, the blender, and the mechanical bull!

Re:Mid Range Wireless (1)

timholman (71886) | more than 5 years ago | (#26167491)

If you have power to an entire room, your cell phone and mobile devices can charge in your pocket without you worrying, bringing the real convenience.

It will never happen in the United States, mainly because a huge group of attorneys will be standing by, eagerly rubbing their hands and waiting for the first group of plaintiffs who will claim that midrange wireless power systems are responsible for headaches, arthritis, brain cancer, birth defects, leukemia, high blood pressure, etc.

Has everyone forgotten the legal battles over claims that electromagnetic fields from high-voltage power lines cause leukemia? And how about the current debate over cell phones causing brain cancer? And those are applications where the electromagnetic field strength is far below what a mid-range wireless power system would require!

There's no way any manufacturer is going to volunteer to be a target for the inevitable multi-billion dollar class action lawsuits. It doesn't matter that the "power lines and cell phones cause cancer" nonsense is junk science; what does count is that any mid-range wireless power system would attract lawsuits like sugar attracts flies. No one is going to touch it.

Magic! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26166801)

Wireless Power?! He must be a witch! Burn the Witch!

Re:Magic! (1)

stonedcat (80201) | more than 5 years ago | (#26167177)

You know... it kinda sounds like you're thinking of white power.

"Cancer" tag (1)

Anthony_Cargile (1336739) | more than 5 years ago | (#26166871)

I see the article is tagged with "cancer", which got me thinking: could all this energy going through the air cause cancer potentially? I know its only a few volts of direct current, but think of the spectrum and the (very high) frequencies of gamma rays and the like, could it be possible? I am no expert in this field by any means, but I have to ask.

Re:"Cancer" tag (1)

AdmiralXyz (1378985) | more than 5 years ago | (#26166959)

The answer to your question "could it cause cancer?" is "definitely yes."

"Will it cause cancer?" is a slightly different story. The technology to charge things wirelessly has existed for some time actually, but we're only now getting to the point where we can do it without cooking anyone nearby like a turkey. Ideally, bugs like cancer-causing levels of radiation will be worked out before it goes into production.

Re:"Cancer" tag (2, Interesting)

Anthony_Cargile (1336739) | more than 5 years ago | (#26167075)

Ideally, bugs like cancer-causing levels of radiation will be worked out before it goes into production.

I sure hope so, but some things can easily slip by quality control, and I would think this could be easier in wireless development due to possible difficulties in testing, and a lack of knowing "exactly" what causes cancer in the first place.

And it is also scary how quality control's quality itself seems to be decreasing [slashdot.org] drastically [thecoffeedesk.com] .

Re:"Cancer" tag (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26167341)

"Ideally, bugs like cancer-causing levels of radiation will be worked out before it goes into production"

HAHAHAH! Are you serious!?

*No* one cares if something is causing cancer as long as it hasn't been shown to cause cancer over a short period of time. If it causes cancer to 5% of the people over a period of 10 years, who the heck will care? There will be no data to support this figure.

They will always deflect cancer to something else. Funny thing is, cancer rates in population are rising as our reliance on cancer causing materials increases (don't worry - none of the materials have conclusively proven to cause cancer).

Basically, if something is not shown to cause cancer, it must be safe. That's the assumption that FDA and other regulatory bodies take. That's why you didn't have to prove that cigarette smoking does not cause cancer. You had to prove that it does cause cancer. And that's what is fucked up.

Re:"Cancer" tag (1)

rockNme2349 (1414329) | more than 5 years ago | (#26166991)

I am not an expert to answer, but I think most people's fears about wireless power causing caner are misguided. The power is not sent electrically through the air, not is it transmitted through gamma rays or any other radio waves. It is a high frequency alternating magnetic field. Magnetic fields alone have been shown to have no negative affects on living organisms. Besides, I'm pretty sure if this thing is really dangerous, someone will find out before there is one in your home, so I wouldn't worry too much about it.

Re:"Cancer" tag (1)

cronotk (896650) | more than 5 years ago | (#26167307)

Sure it's just a magnetic field and everything works with induction but at some point those fields get dangerous. And I sure won't install such a device unless the magnetic field's strength isn't as low as the one of my cellphone.

That said, I have only read the news briefly but I didn't see that it was mentioned exactly how strong the field is.
And I'm worried about that.

Re:"Cancer" tag (1)

Detritus (11846) | more than 5 years ago | (#26167383)

From what I remember from basic physics, when you look at EM radiation, you get both an electric and magnetic field component. You can't have one without the other.

Electromagnetic Radiation [wikipedia.org]

Re:"Cancer" tag (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#26167403)

I am not an expert to answer, but I think most people's fears about wireless power causing caner are misguided. The power is not sent electrically through the air, not is it transmitted through gamma rays or any other radio waves. It is a high frequency alternating magnetic field. Magnetic fields alone have been shown to have no negative affects on living organisms. Besides, I'm pretty sure if this thing is really dangerous, someone will find out before there is one in your home, so I wouldn't worry too much about it.

Your high frequency magnetic field is actually an electromagnetic field, which is exactly the same stuff as gamma waves and radio waves.

Re:"Cancer" tag (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 5 years ago | (#26167099)

Of course it could. Would it? Almost certainly not. Yes, if you were spraying around gamma rays then you would definitely cause some cancer. Wireless power doesn't do that - it uses far lower frequencies.

Put it this way - see that lightbulb? It's spraying around watts of much higher frequency radiation than any consumer wireless device would.

Re:"Cancer" tag (1)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 5 years ago | (#26167339)

Put it this way - see that lightbulb? It's spraying around watts of much higher frequency radiation than any consumer wireless device would.

That's true, and look how sensitive the electrons in our eyes are to it. It's like saying that microwaves can't be seen (they're at a much lower frequency than our eyes detect), therefore they can't hurt us. Good luck with *that*.

Re:"Cancer" tag (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 5 years ago | (#26167399)

I didn't say they couldn't HURT us, I said it was very unlikely they'd cause cancer. It's trivial to demonstrate that radio waves can hurt you. Cram a screwdriver in the door sensor on your microwave, stand in front of it and turn it on.

You don't worry about lightbulbs causing eye cancer, do you? If so, perhaps you should be careful about looking at your computer screen.

Re:"Cancer" tag (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 5 years ago | (#26167121)

As I understand it, no it isn't going to cause cancer. This isn't radiation flying about the room, not even in the sense of EM radiation like microwaves. These systems use an alternating magnetic current that produces a sympithetic current in the device being charged. Rather than sending power in the EM spectrum and generating a current based on a photovoltaic effect.

Re:"Cancer" tag (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#26167255)

All studies point to "Not likely" which is doctor parlance for "No, but we don't want you to get cancer from some other source and then blame us"

damage? (2, Interesting)

tylerdrumr (1233104) | more than 5 years ago | (#26166879)

Im not an expert with this kind of thing by any means but isn't there a chance that it could cause damage to more advanced devices? anyone have any ideas how they get around that?

Re: trickle versus float charging (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26167109)

Actually there's a real risk of damage to less advanced devices, if the battery itself doesn't know to stop charging, the charger must. [wikipedia.org]

IANAP, and I can't fathom how a single wireless charger affecting an entire room could keep track of a dozen devices that don't broadcast their power levels.
Having said that, I would absolutely invest in a "power pad". I'm truly sick of AC adapters.

How about my electric car? (2, Interesting)

cryfreedomlove (929828) | more than 5 years ago | (#26166927)

Can I put one of these on the floor of my garage and charge my car when I park at night?

cords aren't that bad. get over it. (0, Flamebait)

schwillis (1073082) | more than 5 years ago | (#26166945)

Man cords aren't really that bad unless you suffer from down syndrome or something. not bad enough to warrant this type of effort to escape them.

Re:cords aren't that bad. get over it. (2, Informative)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 5 years ago | (#26167219)

Actually, cords are a pain for portable gear. Plugging and unplugging, and moving them is very hard on them. I go through a laptop power cord about once a year. They all wear out right where the wire enters the connector on the laptop side. For cell phones, the connectors themselves often break, get dirty or otherwise damaged. Irritating when it happens to the cord. Worse when it happens to the phone.

Other than using a heavier cord, or a heavy support mesh, there's not really much that can be done about it. A charging surface where there's no mechanical connection would be very handy.

mod 0p (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26167057)

The accounting ones in 50ftware charnel house.

how about a standard interface first ? (1)

cats-paw (34890) | more than 5 years ago | (#26167059)

With modern switching supplies there is no reason why the power interface for various electronic devices cannot be standardized.

Standard plug and a standard information bus.

Device tells you what it wants, the supply adjusts to suit. You _might_ have to have two classes of power supplies for low and high power.

Now I don't need 10 million fucking transformers for my electronic devices.

This interface could then be extended to some sort of wireless power interface.

Why can't they ever start with the easy, and _useful_ stuff ??!!

Re:how about a standard interface first ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26167187)

Why?

Easy.

MONEY.

Really we're fucking lucky to have a standard 110 outlet in our homes. If such a thing were invented today we'd have about 15 adapters for the various electronic things we want to plug into the wall. Instead of the 15 various wall warts we have now.

Re:how about a standard interface first ? (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 5 years ago | (#26167605)

A "smart" power adapter that could output the proper voltage and current (not too much, not too little) for any possible consumer device would probably cost more than 100 "dumb" power adapters. Since your average human has less than 50 (probably less than 10), this would reflect a significant cost increase. Not only that, but more than one would be required - ever want to charge your cell phone and your iPod at the same time?

The primary obstacle has been every manufacturer building their device to accept a given range of power input and not wanting the device to be overloaded (or under supplied) insures that the correct adapter and only the correct adapter will fit. This makes sense for most people that aren't going to be able to determine this otherwise.

I'm afraid you're fighting a losing battle...

Re:how about a standard interface first ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26167957)

I don't see why. PWM controllers are pretty cheap, to the point that many wallwarts, and especially smart battery chargers now use these instead of transformer+rectifiers. It's practically a must to get a reasonable number of charge cycles out of lithium batteries.

So you shift the charging control from the customized charger we use now, to the device to be charged, which in things like cell phones and digital cameras already has a battery meter and microprocessors...the only other thing needed is the data link. The device tells the charger what voltage to deliver and it happily PWM's the right output.

I bet they could be mass produced for less than $20, assuming you can sell the device makers on compatibility to make high volume mass production worthwhile. As the GP said, you could have a couple different sizes for different classes of devices, and just have a keyed interfaces to keep someone from plugging a laptop-class device into a cellphone-class charger.

newclear power consortium=planet/population rescue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26167141)

it's all in the manual. no gadgets required.

This is probably not "Witricity"... (1)

elgol (1257936) | more than 5 years ago | (#26167153)

Note the requirement for the charging station.

There are a number of ideas for "charging pads" or "charging mats" with a matrix of planar coils. The power receiver would be in the back of the item to be charged and rest directly on the pad. They are transmitting power via magnetic coupling, but over much shorter distances (mm, not m). This can actually be done with reasonable high efficiency (>90%). Sorry, I don't have the references on the top of my head.

On the other hand, Witricity is a dog because they are trying to transmit power over a distance on the same order of the coil's radius or farther. Without a winding with much better conductivity than copper, this cannot be very efficient (60-75% is pretty poor). The resonance aspect does not affect the coil transfer efficiency in theory, but it helps in practice because power electronics components are, alas, non-ideal.

If you ever have a chance to see someone demo this, ask them to put the coil axes at right angles to each other and see what happens...

John

Standard power cable? You mean USB? (1)

argent (18001) | more than 5 years ago | (#26167197)

Last I checked USB was pretty much the defacto standard power connector already, for low power devices. And you can make a nice looking USB charging dock for SUB a lot more cheaply than you can make these space-wasting power pads.

Re:Standard power cable? You mean USB? (1)

Rene S. Hollan (1943) | more than 5 years ago | (#26167791)

You can now buy USB charging dock with, for example, four USB outluts.

Standards Requires Standard Technology (5, Informative)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 5 years ago | (#26167251)

You can't develop a standard if you don't have similar technologies, and wireless power developers so far have been coming up with all kinds of different technologies. Remove the part of TFA that makes no sense in light of this, and you end up with an advertisement for this "consortium" disguised as a press release, faithfully and unquestioningly reproduced by PC Authority. Had PC Authority tried to do real journalism rather than simple reproduction, they'd have found that not only are the major proposed schemes so different that the idea of standardization is ridiculous, but that some of the members of the consortium aren't even developing any of those schemes.

Re:Standards Requires Standard Technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26167737)

exactly, we should be trying as many different designs as necessary, then making the best the standard and working from there. of course I didnt RTFA but I'm pretty sure there are only a handful of groups to get this working at all so far.

mod 3Own (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26167313)

Of vario0s BSD

You think regular folks have problems now? (1)

DJRumpy (1345787) | more than 5 years ago | (#26167385)

How will people secure their 'Power' networks? They don't secure their wireless networks?

How will you stop your neighbor from intercepting your power transmissions and making them his or her own?

Re:You think regular folks have problems now? (1)

Anthony_Cargile (1336739) | more than 5 years ago | (#26168163)

It's simple really: just keep them (and their devices) out of the small wireless power range, which includes:

A) Locking your door and not giving the neighbors a key, recommend an "alarm" (or alarm-like) system for optimal security
B) Preventing the neighbors from staying in your home, in the same room as the device charger for extended periods of time, especially while their chargeable device is visible
C) Do not place the wireless charger next to any outside walls, or next to any guest room walls
D) provide a unique SSID and WPA (not WEP) encryption to the wireless charger, optimally combined with MAC Address filtering and RADIUS (ok, I made that part up).

But seriously, this does not have nearly the same range as wireless routers, else Linksys/Netgear/Belkin would have already had an all in one gateway-router-AP-charger already :D.

Re:You think regular folks have problems now? (1)

DJRumpy (1345787) | more than 5 years ago | (#26168195)

Remember the range of early wireless. I can see this taking the same sort of track where range is the goal that manufacturers measure their performance against. Then you have small apartments like you would in New York or somewhere where space is a premium. It may not always be possible to limit exposure to neighbors.

Re:You think regular folks have problems now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26168247)

Kill them.

Kill all of them, one by one, then you can have your wireless internet and electricity all to yourself, with no neighbors around to steal it.

Yes, imagine the freedom you'd have, all alone with your own, unshared bandwidth and voltage...

What could possibly go wrong? (5, Funny)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 5 years ago | (#26167409)

Intel chief technology officer Justin Rattner demonstrated a Wireless Energy Resonant Link [today.com] as he spoke at the annual Intel developers forum in San Francisco yesterday.

Rattner demonstrated this by causing his ears to light up at 60 watts of power a yard from a power transmitter operated by his assistant Igor. Only four journalists were incinerated when the power earthed through them from his fingertips.

Rattner reassured us that pumping kilowatts of power around the home through magnetic induction power is absolutely harmless. "The human body is not affected by magnetic fields," he said as one journalist with a pacemaker collapsed and another with a knee replacement watched his leg catch fire. "There's no danger whatsoever from it, any more than there is from mobile phones cooking your brain, microwave leakage blinding you, chemical waste unraveling all the DNA in your balls or statistical clusters of kids with cancer wherever high-tension power lines run overhead. Asbestos and thalidomide were horribly slandered in their day too."

"Of course, Nikola Tesla did it first in 1899," said enthusiast Albert Tedious-Anorak, 54, of Little Boring. "I detailed this at length on Wikipedia, but they refused to believe the value of my revelations on this matter due to a conspiracy of Edison fans amongst the site administrators."

Produce power where it is consumed, instead ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26167411)

... of trying to transport it in fancy new ways.

My 10-year-old calculator was able to work with only 3 cm^2 of solar cells in a rather dark room. No need for wireless power or batteries.

Induces current always? (1)

Fearless96 (1059568) | more than 5 years ago | (#26167587)

What about nearby devices that aren't designed to be chared? Won't this charger induce a current in any electronic device that is close enough? Would it only matter for some devices that have hefty transformers or hefty inductors?

But instead of wireless power for mobile phones... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26167601)

why can't we use the same method that charges wrist watches? ie. kinetic energy to power your cell phone.
As most people carry it around in their pants, jackets or bags, just walking around would charge them?

oral B (1)

bugs2squash (1132591) | more than 5 years ago | (#26167607)

wow a connection free power cradle !

I wish my toothbrush did this

Good. About time. (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 5 years ago | (#26167875)

It's about the right time to do this. There have been about three competing schemes for smart inductive wireless charging, none of which got any traction. This needs to be standardized, preferably worldwide.

If this works, every business hotel will have a convenient charging pad in every room. We might see charging pads built into cars.

IEEE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26168001)

Why don't they simply ask the IEEE to set up a committee on this?

They're fairly neutral, have a pretty good record on making standards, and would have the knowledgeable membership to make informed decisions.

The problem is "requires different chargers." (1)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 5 years ago | (#26168029)

The problem is "requires different chargers," so the obvious solution is to standardize the voltage requirements of electronic devices so that they don't need to use different chargers.

Why are the silly chargers able to plug into the same outlet in the first place? Not because of any physical constant of the universe, but because the market decided that the advantages of standardization outweighed whatever subtle optimization there might have be in (say) running lights at 120 volts DC, vacuum cleaners at 85 volts 50 Hz AC, and refrigerators at 150 volts, 600 Hz AC.

Suggesting that wireless power as an appropriate answer is bizarre.

They could standardize rechargeable battery and button cell voltages and form factors while they're at it. My granddaughter probably thinks I'm telling lies about a mythical Golden Age when I say there was a time when all you needed was four kinds of battery.

Scared, paranoid? (1)

dindi (78034) | more than 5 years ago | (#26168097)

While I am a true geek and nerd and whatever else (having 5x more networked devices than the average Joe), I am just SCARED of this idea.

I have cell phones and wireless access points (which I keep FAR away from my pregnant wife and will keep away from the young man), I DEFINITELY deny using a microwave oven unless absolutely unavoidable (once a month?). No I do not have air purifiers and spray "kill 99% germs" shit all around the house, and better have my kids play with my dogs' shit other than operate a microwave oven, I think that wireless power is something I definitely something I want to keep away from: young souls, pregnant women and my testicles. Sure, I am an old FSCK or whatever but I better give it 20 years before using it, so they find out what new crap it will bring around.

Just my 2c. I have all these colleagues (looking like sick old man) eating fastfood every day while I am a vegan (yeah, pleas flame/troll me on this /// or be a true nerd/geek and thing why I am one) ........

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