Wireless charging breakthrough turns rooms into charging zones

Researchers at the University of Michigan and University of Tokyo have developed a system to deliver electricity over the air, offering the possibility to turn buildings into wireless charging zones.

The development, detailed in a study published in Nature Electronics, can deliver 50 watts of power using magnetic fields, offering the potential to untether phones, laptops and even implanted medical devices.

The team tested the technology in a purpose built 10 feet by 10 feet aluminium test room, wirelessly powering lamps, fans and mobile devices that could draw current from anywhere in the room regardless of people or furniture in the room by using a conductive surface on room walls and a conductive pole to generate magnetic fields.

The researchers are also working on a smaller scale version of the system for spaces smaller than room-size, such as a toolbox that can charge wireless tools that are placed inside.

Alanson Sample, professor of computer science and engineering, University of Michigan, commented: “This really ups the power of the ubiquitous computing world—you could put a computer in anything without ever having to worry about charging or plugging in.

“There are a lot of clinical applications as well; today’s heart implants, for example, require a wire that runs from the pump through the body to an external power supply. This could eliminate that, reducing the risk of infection and improving patients’ quality of life.”

Main image: The finished charging room at the University of Tokyo

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