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June 7, 2007

This is truly cutting the cord

Posted by Tricia Duryee at 12:10 PM

We are fortunate today to have a lot of wireless things -- phones, remote controls, phones and headsets.

But a lot of people ask, when will we be able to charge a wireless device without plugging it into the wall with a cord?

This may be, perhaps, the holy grail of wireless.

A story in the Wall Street Journal today says the idea is not too far away. A group of scientists has been working on it quietly, and have successfully demonstrated wireless transmission of electric power.

The WSJ said a team of Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers reported in Science Express, the online publication of the journal Science, that they were able to power a 60-watt light bulb even though it was not connected to any power source.

The demonstration, in turn, could pave the way for wireless recharging of cellphone batteries and operation of mobile robots, scientists reported.

The technology, dubbed "WiTricity" for wireless electricity, transmits "electric power by magnetically coupled resonators."

Is this a dream?

Maybe not.

Marin Soljacic, the physics professor who led the team, said the technology has proved itself such that "now is a good time to start thinking about commercializing it."

He said that while further development is needed to improve efficiency, he thinks commercial products could be on sale in "a few years, if you started working very seriously." He said MIT would handle licensing of the technology.

The researcher's technology uses a copper coil attached to a power outlet to transmit electromagnetic waves at set frequencies. A receiving coil attached to the base of the light bulb can receive the power for a distance up to 7 feet, making it appropriate for rooms.

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Tricia Duryee
Tricia Duryee
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