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Dec 31, 2016 05:00 AM EST

How Close Are We To True 'Non-Contact' Wireless Device Charging; The Tesla Perspective [Video]

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There are reports that Apple's iPhone 8 might use true wireless device charging of its phone. The device will be untethered, unlike the now common technology where the unit is placed on a charging mat to pump power in the device's battery.

Nikola Tesla and the Tesla Coil

It would seem like magic that any electronic device could be powered up or charged when it is brought within range of the mobile charging transmitter, across an area of coverage. It no longer falls in the realm of science fiction but a science fact since the technology already exists.

The technology exists since the time of Nikola Tesla who started the idea of transmitting power on May 22, 1904. The idea then was to draw millions of volts of electricity through the air originating from Niagara Falls and then transmitting the energy to cities, factories, and private houses from the tops of his towers without wires, according to Tesla Society.

How wireless charging works

Wireless charging employs a loop of coiled wires around a bar magnet serving as an inductor. When electricity passes through the coiled wire, it then creates an electromagnetic field around the inductor, which can then be used to transfer power to a nearby object.

However, technology then was not revolutionary enough to provide transfer of power. Today's advancement has made it cheap and viable. Note that the transmitters will not charge just any power hungry device. The devices need to have receivers that can communicate with the charging station letting it know an authorized device is in need of power.

Wireless charging today

Two competing protocols are present between Power Matters Alliance and Wireless Power Consortium but their systems can charge smartphones and smartwatches. Nevertheless, these are not "proper" wireless charging since they need to be in contact before transferring power.

Recently, LG Electronics reportedly locked-down wireless charging by employing magnetic resonance for a smartphone. Their system can charge the unit from a few inches away.

Energous and WattUp

Unlike the now current inductive wireless charging (mat charging), Energous' WattUp can charge devices from up to 15 feet away. The RF-based charging can be integrated into any device to provide power or charge wirelessly, 9To5Mac reported.

Energous, developer of WattUp, is a wire-free charging technology that will issue licenses to companies to embed their technology into devices. The question, therefore, is not how far are we to non-contact wireless charging, but when are we going to have it in our devices.

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