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WiTricity®: The Wireless Energy Revolution

Ever since the scientist Nikola Tesla began working on wireless energy transmission in the 19th century, this field has been one of the great scientific challenges. Now this almost magical idea of a world without cables is set to become a reality thanks to WiTricity® technology, developed by an MIT spin-off with the same name.

Ever since the scientist Nikola Tesla began working on wireless energy transmission in the 19th century, this field has been one of the great scientific challenges. Now this almost magical idea of a world without cables is set to become a reality thanks to WiTricity® technology, developed by an MIT spin-off with the same name.

Explanatory video about WiTricity technology. Source: The Daily Conversation.

As the WiTricity website explains, it all began one night at the house of Marin Soljačić, Professor of Physics at MIT, when the beeps from his mobile telephone having a low battery woke him up. It was the sixth time that month that it had happened because he had forgotten to charge it. So he thought to himself, if there is electricity available in all the wiring around the house, the telephone should use it to “take care of its own charging” without the need for a wired connection. There would have to be a way to transfer the power supply from the cable infrastructure wirelessly to the telephone.

Katie Hall from WiTricity in an interview with CNN.

Wireless power systems based on magnetic induction have been used for decades (for example, in electric toothbrushes): an alternating magnetic field is generated in a transmitter coil and is then converted into electric current in a receiver coil. The problem with these traditional systems is their inefficiency in transference over greater distances. In 2006 Marin Soljačić and his colleagues demonstrated a highly resonant magnetic induction which solves this issue, applicable to any situation in which a device or battery need to be charged. They then began work in the WiTricity corporation in order to translate this advance in physics to the industrial sector; a long, complex process which is now bearing fruit with a significant impact in many sectors and which is leading us towards a wireless world.

Kesler, Technology Director at WiTricity, in a video about WiTricity technology.

WiTricity is putting systems on the market which can be installed on the floor or on a table and which act as wireless charging sources for several devices, even when they are a different size from the source and are far away from it. For example, the Toyota Prius due to be released on the market in 2016 will be charged from a wireless platform installed on the owner’s garage floor. A year or two from now, we will be able to buy computers, laptops, tablets, mobile telephones, televisions and other consumer electronic devices which will not require any cables. In other words, “Instead of having a different charging cord for every device you own, you can have one location where you put your mobile phone or your laptop, and it will stay charged automatically,” explains Morris Kessler, Chief Technology Officer at WiTricity, in an article published on MIT’s ILP (Industrial Liaison Program) website.

Alex Gruzen, CEO of WiTricity, at a demonstration of the technology at Engadget Expand New York

WiTricity® technology is also being implemented in the field of medicine (for instance, to charge devices implanted in the human body, such as pacemakers), in military applications and in multiple industrial environments.