RCA has put forward a charging device that they claim is capable of harvesting energy from WiFi signals and converting them to DC battery power, and according to Oh! Gizmo, they were able to demo it charging up a Blackberry battery from 30% to full in just 90 minutes using only ambient WiFi signals. It's a mighty big claim for a technology that even innovation giant Intel has not yet made pan out for a consumer product. Yet, they had a demo device on hand at CES, and were eager to talk about the tiny energy harvester. Gizmag reports, "The device is about the size of a cell phone, with a Micro USB connector hanging off it. Inside is an antenna to receive 2.4GHz (802.11) WiFi signals, and a converter that turns the WiFi energy into DC power which is then stored in the on-board battery. You can keep the Airnergy in your briefcase or your pocket and whenever it is within range of WiFi, it charges itself. Simply connect it to your device to charge its battery. And, unlike solar chargers, the Airnergy works at night."
The device was shown off at CES 2010. But, no one from the Gizmag team saw this demonstrated, and unfortunately neither did I while I was there all last weekend. So while it sounds fantastic, and the innovation seems exciting, we're hesitant to jump on board and hail in a new way of recycling energy into our gadgets that is still so unproven, and unlikely to actually work. Harvesting energy from wifi signals is something several companies are looking into - including Intel and AdaptivEnergy - but we haven't seen anything so far that is capable of the specs this one provides, and we aren't expecting we will anytime soon.
Here's a discussion at Physics Forums about the device. No one else seems to think it has legs either.
As Gizmag says, "We'll believe it when we see it." And supposedly we'll see it this summer at a price point of around $40.
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