By Evan Ackerman
Power cords are the bane of my existence. Every year, it seems like we’re getting closer to a solution to perpetually dead and dying cellphones and laptops, and this year is no exception, with Powercast showing off their remote and contactless RF power systems:
Powercast uses radio frequencies to transmit power through solid surfaces or the open air to devices equipped with teeny little receivers. At close range, the efficiency is around 90% (more efficient than an AC/DC adapter), and at longer range, 70% efficiency is still achievable.
Although Powercast can transmit power over long distances in either focused or unfocused directions, they said that it’s really not practical to do so, and (unfortunately) they’re correct (some of their PR materials to the contrary). For example, if you want Powercast to cover a room, it certainly can… But every part of that room that DOESN’T have a receiver in it is just going to be wasting energy. Even without such futuristic applications, Powercast has a lot to offer: since it can charge or power devices without any physical interface, electronics could be hermetically sealed against dust and water.
As far as cost and availability… The technology is ready to go, but Powercast isn’t going to be releasing any consumer products directly, and they have to find manufacturers willing to embrace their system. The price premium is going to be affordable to consumers, since the technology itself is not intrinsically that expensive. What I would love (love) to see, though, would be a combined Powercast antenna and battery in a AA form factor. Hey, I can dream, can’t I?
[ Powercast ]