Disney came up with a way to power an entire room wirelessly
It should come as no real surprise to anyone that wireless power is the wave of the future. It’s still in its infancy, but more and more we’re seeing devices like smartphones and tablets that can receive power through touch or proximity to a power source. Doing away with wires for good is an appealing idea, and probably an inevitable one.
Who doesn’t want to simply walk around and have their smartphone or other mobile device charge on its own? Who wouldn’t want to never have to plug anything in again? You can be sure that many people are working on that problem, and it appears that Disney Research Hub may be one major step closer to that goal.
Disney Research has come up with a way to supply wireless power to an entire room. It is still very much a prototype, but the device can provide 1900 watts of energy throughout a room with an efficiency of 45 to 90-percent. To put that in context, it takes about three to seven watts to charge a smartphone battery.
Although the name Disney may not be synonymous with technological advancements, the company’s research wing is growing and has offices in Pittsburgh and Zurich, with affiliations to multiple universities, notably Carnegie Mellon. Its work has produced advancements that have been used solely for entertainment – BB-8 in The Force Awakens was a result of the Disney research – but it also works toward larger goal, like wireless power.
Disney’s recent results in that field were published in the journal Plos One, and while they are encouraging, there are severe limitations.
To begin with, the room needs to be specifically constructed with aluminum panels on the walls and a copper rod in the center of the room with a small coil device next to it. The range is also limited so the room has to be small.
The pole contains 15 capacitors that radiate power at 1.32 MHz. Once it is powered up, the entire room is filled with a magnetic field. Another drawback is that people shouldn’t get any close than 46 centimeter, or it could be dangerous to them.
There will also need to be plenty of studies on whether or not this will have any long terms effects. And even if it is proven to be safe, there will be countless stories about how it secretly causes health problems. Remember all the stories about how cell phones could make a gas station explode? It never happened, but it spread quickly and thoroughly.
Regardless, the technology has a working model. It will need to become more efficient and the range will need to be extended, but it works. Ideally, the obtrusive metal pillar will be removed, but that may require a fundamental redesign. Still, the technology is possible, and it may just be a few years away.