Say goodbye to cables? Researchers at the University of Washington just successfully tested Wi-Fi charging.
With the ever-increasing number of smart, connected devices in our lives and the rise of the Internet of Things, there's a real need for a more elegant charging solution than cables running everywhere.
A recent report in Wired detailed how the researchers equipped a variety of devices with sensors to take Wi-Fi signals from a router and turn them into DC power.
The team wanted the system to integrate with pre-existing Wi-Fi infrastructure, so they gave an off-the-shelf Asus router a software update to make it work as both a wireless power source and as a conventional Wi-Fi router. Rechargeable batteries installed with the team's custom sensors were charged up to 28 feet away, with a camera working up to 17 feet away and a temperature sensor working up to 20 feet away.
Impressive numbers for sure, but they're hampered by the Federal Communications Commission's limit of one-watt power outputs on wireless routers. For example, an iPhone charger is five watts and a MacBook Air charger is 45 watts, so the FCC regulation would have to change in order for this technology to have any practical value.
The researchers have already installed their modified routers in six homes around Seattle and are working with hardware manufacturers and a startup company to bring this technology into the mainstream.
Their technology isn't yet ready for widespread adoption, but it already shows great promise. Current wireless charging systems are interesting, but not terribly practical; charger cases for your smartphone are bulky and cumbersome at best, and inductive charging is somewhat pointless considering your device has to be tethered in order for it to work.
This is the first wireless charging solution that could be better than the wires it hopes to replace, and it uses energy that's already all around us.
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