Disney Researchers Make Wireless Power Transfer Breakthrough

Disney Researchers Make Wireless Power Transfer Breakthrough

For the purposes of this proof-of-concept, the researchers constructed a 16-by-16-foot room with aluminum walls, ceiling and floor bolted to an aluminum frame.

So, it's like you just walk in a room, and your devices start charging automatically. This breakthrough technology may usher in the ubiquitous wireless power era much like the Wi-Fi we enjoy today.

"The current travels through the pole, ceiling, walls, and floor, which generates a magnetic field, circulating around the pole". These receivers can be connected to a device, like a phone or fan, to supply it with power. Their analysis concludes a power of around 1900 watts can be transferred to a coil receiver. To get around this issue, the researchers came up with a receiver design with three orthogonal coils so at least one of them would be able to receive power regardless of where it's located. Building owners will then be able to retrofit existing structures via modular panels or conductive paint, and in the case of larger spaces, by inserting multiple copper poles. If entire attraction queues were flooded with wireless power, guests would never have to worry about draining their batteries by killing time with their devices while waiting.

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An environment pulsing with invisible magnetic and electric waves doesn't sound safe, but the researchers ran simulations to prove that it's safe to transmit 1.9 kilowatts of electricity, enough to power up to 320 USB-powered devices, without turning our delicate bodies into electrified piles of goo. Finally, as per SAR (specific absorption rate) requirements, safety strategies such as intrusion detection or a decorative wall would need to be employed to ensure that people do not venture within 46 cm of the pole. But getting it to work has been a bit of a problem, with the extent of modern wireless power coming mostly in the form of electric toothbrushes or flat charging pads for phones.

A paper has been published by Disney Research. Given that it's still a very early prototype, there's a few caveats to Disney's wireless charger, including the limit on the power that can be pumped into the room before it reaches risky levels for humans. In essence, up to 1,900 watts can be pumped in, but this would only be safe if the same amount of energy was being used by devices in the room.