Disney reveals room-filling, wireless-charging breakthrough

These charging waves are invisible and perfectly safe.
PHOTO: Video Screengrab

Wireless charging is a farce. We've basically traded in charging cables for custom-built surfaces that only work if we place our phones right on top of them.

What we want is to walk into a room and have our iPhone 8 start charging automatically. And it looks like that dream is now a tick closer to reality.

A team of scientists at Disney Research (yes, that Disney), have built a gadget-charging, device-powering room that's safe for humans, their furniture and decor, if perhaps rather ugly.

In a very dense paper published last week in the journal PLOS One, Disney researchers Matthew Chabalko, Mohsen Shahmohammadi and Alanson Sample describe the development of "Volumetric wireless power for livable spaces."

Researchers built a free-standing room with aluminium panels covering the walls, floor and ceiling. In the centre of it, a two-inch copper pipe runs vertically from floor to ceiling (We said it was ugly). Electric current runs down through the pipe, into the floor, up the walls, over the ceiling and back into the pipe, looping at 1.3 million times per second. That looping electricity creates a room-filling magnetic field that runs in a circular pattern perpendicular to the pole.

In the centre of the length of pipe, they placed an array of capacitors. The in-pipe capacitors manage the electromagnetic frequency, lowering it until the electric and magnetic fields are separated. Basically it's an electromagnetic field, without the electricity.

An environment pulsing with invisible magnetic and electric waves doesn't sound safe, but the researchers ran simulations to prove that it's safe to transmit 1.9 kilowatts of electricity, enough to power up to 320 USB-powered devices, without turning our delicate bodies into electrified piles of goo.

It's not clear, though, what safety precautions are needed around the copper pole.

Read the full article here


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