What is Wireless Power?


Anyone who attends a class or meeting where most of the participants have laptop computers is well aware that there are never enough power outlets — and when they are available, they are invariably located in inconvenient places. Wireless power, already being prototyped by several companies, promises to alleviate the problem by making power for charging batteries in devices readily available. Using near-field inductive coupling, power can be transmitted through special surfaces or even through open space to charge devices within a home, office, school, or other setting. Consumer products are already entering the market; the Powermat, for instance, charges up to three devices placed onto its surface (each device must first be slipped into a compatible sleeve). Fulton Innovation's eCoupled technology is designed to be built into desk and countertops, enabling not only power transfer but also other wireless communications between devices placed on the surfaces. Witricity is developing transmitters that would be embedded in walls or other furniture, transferring power via inductive coupling to receivers attached to devices anywhere within the home or classroom. However, it is important to note that there have been health risks associated with using wireless power that need to be resolved before wide-scale adoption.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • I hadn't heard of this before but it would be transformational and increase the flexibility of the estate - however I wonder whether the ultimate would be devices with low energy requirements run from photovoltaic panels. - chris.cobb chris.cobb May 17, 2011
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(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

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(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, research or information management within the next five years?

  • Little or none for some time - I'm doubtful this will have much significant impact over next 5 years. - andy.powell andy.powell May 18, 2011
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(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

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