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The Cloud Predict Wireless Device Charging from UK Public WiFi Hotspots

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014 (11:36 am) - Score 1,270
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The Cloud, a public wireless Internet hotspot operator owned by BSkyB (Sky Broadband), has noted how similar technology to that already used in wifi networks could soon help everything from Smartphones to possibly even electric Cars get recharged while surfing the Internet and without needing to be plugged in.

The idea behind wireless charging of devices is of course nothing new, with devices like the Nokia’s Lumia 820 Smartphone including wireless charging shell(s) that allowed the battery to be topped up without needing to plug the phone in. But such methods often lack efficiency and usually need to be near a special charging station, which itself still has to be plugged in (i.e. you might as well just plug the phone in anyway).

But since then there have been other developments, such as last year’s creation of an electrical circuit that’s capable of harvesting microwaves at Duke University (here). Now WiTricity are developing a wireless electricity tech that will operate safely and efficiently over distances ranging from a few centimetres to several meters and deliver power ranging from milliwatts to kilowatts.

The company has already built a clever Source Resonator device, which is a powered coil of electrical wire that creates a magnetic field and this can then be used with a second coil to generate an electrical charge. Apparently this magnetic field is of the same kind as used in WiFi routers, which could offer some interesting cross-over options for mixing both energy supplies with Internet access (e.g. get your phone charged while using wifi in a local café etc.).

David Howells, The Cloud, said:

With this in mind, it’s not too much of a stretch to see that, one day, wi-fi routers may not only provide superfast internet through the airwaves, but also charge devices at the same time.

Other potential implications are phones which charge as their owners simply walk through town or electric cars that “fill up” when sat on the driveway or in a parking bay, without needing to be plugged in.”

But as it stands the issue of distance, efficiency, cost and practical support for such a product are still not perfectly refined because otherwise we’d all be using it. Not to mention that those whom immediately seek the nearest tin-foil hat at the merest mention of such things are unlikely to be too keen on the idea.

On the other hand, if it can be made to work safely and efficiently over a reasonable distance then this could indeed prove to be very useful and it might just help WiFi to survive the growing storm from ever faster Mobile Broadband connectivity.

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