Intel Shows Wireless Resonant Energy Link at IDF
Intel recently demonstrated wireless power transmission at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF). They call it "Wireless Resonant Energy Link" (WREL), and it is based on principles proposed by MIT physicists (Marin SoljaÄiÄ‡ & others). Intel CTO Justin Rattner showed such a system lighting a 60 watt lightbulb on stage (too bad it wasn't a CFL -- they could have used 3). In 2007 MIT researchers had a prototype working at 40% efficiency, and now Intel claims that 75% is possible.
Benefits of Wireless Power
Intel is mostly talking about charging laptops and cellphones without having to plug them in, which, from a green point of view, might or might not be a good thing. It depends on what kind of real-world efficiencies they can achieve and how that compares to our current "wall warts" transformers that aren't always very efficient and that can sometimes keep drawing power even when nothing's plugged in.Creative Uses for Wireless Power
Another interesting use might be to recharge the batteries (or hypercapacitors?) of plug-in hybrids and electric cars. In most situations, using a power cord will probably be the simplest and most efficient way (f.ex. in your garage at home), but in other places, high efficiency wireless power might be useful. History has shown again and again that every last bit of convenience counts, and if that extra convenience can increase the adoption rate of electric vehicles, that might compensate for a few % of lost efficiency.
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More on Intel's Wireless Power System
Intel Press Release
Intel cuts electric cords with wireless power system
Rattner ready for robots to take over
Wikipedia Wireless Energy Transfer:Resonant Induction