Wireless charging, also known as witricity, isn’t exactly new. You might already use it to charge your cell phone by laying it on a pad. If you have an electric toothbrush, odds are good that it is charged wirelessly.
In fact, the wireless charging industry is currently a $500 million industry. But that’s just chump change. In only three years, by 2017, the industry is expected to be worth 14 times that amount, over $7 billion. That means even if you currently use wireless charging, it’s about to become a much larger part of your life.
So what is going to change in the near future? Distance will be the big thing. Currently wireless chargers work by creating an electromagnetic field which charges the device. (Frankly this is about all that we understand about how it really works; engineers, feel free to chime in!) The problem is that these electromagnetic fields are small and thus you are very limited as to where you can actually charge your device.
All of this is changing though. Back in 2007 researchers at MIT were able to power a 60 watt light bulb from seven feet away from its power source. Well, so what, you might say. This is just the beginning. Imagine a kitchen countertop where searching for an outlet for the toaster isn’t a problem. Or even better, your cell phone doesn’t die because you forgot to charge it. Instead, it begins to charge as soon as you get home. Or even better, your cell phone charges while you sit at Starbucks.
The technology is there and getting better. The next big step will be implementing it in more and more devices. And in case you’re worried about safety, you shouldn’t have nightmares of people being electrocuted by wireless electricity. Instead, what is created is an electromagnetic field which is something that we encounter all of the time from all of our devices.
Ultimately, where can this technology lead? It could mean building houses without wires which will no doubt eliminate some fire hazards. But take things a step further. Imagine driving your electric car, parking it in your garage, and having it recharge without having to remember anything. The technology is not only there, but Toyota has licensed the technology and plans to implement it in the next few years.
Soon there will be no more problems with finding an outlet and forgetting a charger. Instead you’ll recharge in basically any store you go into, much the same way that many stores now have wi-fi. This is a great new field and it will only grow exponentially in the coming years.
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