Companies have been toying with the idea of wireless power for a while now. More officially known as 'wireless energy transfer' or 'wireless power transmission' it is useful where instantaneous or continuous energy transfer is needed, but interconnecting wires are inconvenient or hazardous or an impossibility. With devices becoming increasingly portable, multi functional and 'dead finger', the idea of running out of battery, for some, is too much to bear.
The most common form of wireless power transmission manifests itself with regards to induction, followed by electrodynamic induction. Seemingly space-age, the basis of this technology had been discovered in the early 1800's by a French physicist named AndrÃ©-Marie AmpÃ¨re. He developed Ampere's law, showing that electric current produces a magnetic field.
Flash forward to the recent past and you'll find the technology news littered with big name companies trying to harness wireless power for their products. A good example of this is the announcement on September 29th 2006, by Seiko, Epson and Murata teaming up to work on a contact-less quick charger. More recently on July 20th Showa Aircraft showed off a true contact-less charging system. Showa had developed a rig which harnesses an electromagnetic induction method, letting it charge or power up devices at a maximum distance of a meter apart. Working at its best at distances of less than sixty centimeters, it is able to reach a ninety percent transfer efficiency rate. The challenge for these companies is to now try to get the energy efficiency up to a more impressive percentage, showing not only that the technology works well but is also efficient in doing so.
Despite there being some controversy about the danger of wasted energy, Showa assured the public during their demonstration, that it was completely safe, going as far as placing a frying pan between to giant coils, which apparently (according to Engadget) did not heat up.
Little over a month after the public demonstration of Showa's wireless power induction, a company named Nagano Japan Radio Co Ltd. has developed a similar system which has just been demonstrated to the public; trouncing Showa's effort by five percent. Nagano's system provides a ninety-five percent efficiency rate at a distance of forty centimeters. According to Tech-On, the company is currently hard at work trying to ramp the output up from "several tens" of watts to several kilowatts, gaining an impressive power output. As opposed to Showa's effort (which relies on electromagnetic induction), this system uses magnetic resonance to achieve its effect. However, as this method "drastically lowers" its efficiency when the position of the sending and receiving units are displaced, the team designed a system that automatically detects coil displacement and reorients itself accordingly.
According to Engadget, the company hopes to develop this technology to the extent that it is able to someday charge electronic vehicles. The latest effort from Nagano signals another, albeit seemingly small, development towards this technology finding its way into our everyday devices.