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Power Wireless Networking Hardware

Sony Prototype Sends Electricity Through the Air 240

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the efficiency-is-overrated dept.
itwbennett writes "Sony announced Friday that it has developed a prototype power system based on magnetic resonance that can send 'a conventional 100 volt electricity supply over a distance of 50 centimeters to power a 22-inch LCD television.' Unfortunately, Sony's prototype wasted 1/5 of the power fed into it and additional losses 'occurred in circuitry connected to the secondary coil so the original 80 watts of power was cut by roughly a quarter to 60 watts once it had made its way through the system.'"
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Sony Prototype Sends Electricity Through the Air

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  • by Bruiser80 (1179083) on Friday October 02, 2009 @04:56PM (#29621167)
    But if they can't improve on 50cm, I'm just getting a 2ft extension cord for fixed items.

    (sorry for mixing units)
  • video source? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by whizzard (177251) on Friday October 02, 2009 @05:01PM (#29621215) Homepage

    If you still need a cable to connect your video sources, what's the point?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by JeanBaptiste (537955)
      uh, wireless hdmi? [google.com]
    • by ucblockhead (63650) on Friday October 02, 2009 @05:10PM (#29621289) Homepage Journal

      I here someone once figured out a way to send signals from a TV station to a TV set without wires. Crazy I know, but true.

      • by Grishnakh (216268)

        Yes, but it's only commercial-filled crap beamed from a broadcaster, which doesn't allow you to pause, rewind, store programs, choose exactly what movie you want to watch and when, etc. And due to FCC rules, you're not allowed to transmit your own video on public channels (since it would inevitably interfere with other people doing the same thing).

        • You realize you can use a DVR with broadcast TV, right?

          • by Grishnakh (216268)

            So? You're still stuck with whatever they broadcast. What if you want to watch a Blu-Ray? Or download something from BitTorrent?

            Besides, you do realize that DVRs require a cable to connect to the TV, right? So that throws this "wireless TV" thing right out the window, which was the point the OP was trying to make.

            • by Grishnakh (216268)

              I didn't realize you're the OP. So you invalidated your own point. What good is not needing wires to connect to your TV if you need a wire to connect the DVR to the TV?

            • Unless the DVR and Blu-Ray player and a Wifi card are all built into the TV.

              • by Grishnakh (216268)

                Yeah, that'll work real well. Look how well TVs have sold in the past when VCRs and DVDs were built-in. It's a stupid idea because as soon as some other thing comes out, your TV is obsolete and saddled with POS you never use.

                I'll bet a lot of people are glad they never bought a $3000 TV with built-in HD-DVD (not that one was ever offered, but for exactly this reason).

                Even "clueless" non-tech-savvy consumers know not to buy TVs with built-in stuff. Everyone knows that they keep their TV for many years, so

    • If you still need a cable to connect your video sources, what's the point?

      I'm pretty sure prototypes (and maybe one or two production implementations) of systems which can transmit analog and digital streams (including, in either form, audio+video streams) between points without cables have existed for a while.

      • by Grishnakh (216268)

        These things will probably be banned if they become technically workable and appear on the market. Remember, the main reason to use such a thing would be to connect your Blu-Ray player to your 52" flat-screen TV without having to run cables through the walls. But doing this wirelessly would constitute public distribution of this copyrighted content, which is illegal as the FCC notice says at the beginning of the movie, so the studios will probably have this technology banned.

    • by felipekk (1007591)

      Well, you don't actually need to connect video sources. You can use a USB Stick attached to the TV, specially if it is one of those TV's used in showrooms and company entrance halls that just show a video on loop.

  • WiTricity? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mjihad (686196)
    But how is it different from WiTricity [wikipedia.org]?
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by maxwell demon (590494)

      Since it's from Sony, it will probably have built-in DRM, so only authorized systems can use the power.

  • by kheldan (1460303) on Friday October 02, 2009 @05:04PM (#29621235) Journal
    Why is anyone wasting any time on useless technology like this? Is it based on consumer demand? If so then consumers need some basic physics and electronics lessons. This is not Star Trek, people, we can't "beam" your power to you via subspace, the inverse-square law fully applies, this is not ever going to be efficient or practical! Electrically powered things require power cords, get over it!
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by stonedcat (80201)

      Lets stop innovation entirely and let technology sit and stagnate for a few hundred years.
      It's a good thing you showed us the error of our ways or we might have advanced by leaps and bounds.

      • by Grishnakh (216268)

        There's lots of places where technological advances would not only be very useful, but maybe even necessary for the continued existence of our civilization: biotech and agriculture to make more food for our geometrically-increasing population and cure diseases, newer transportation technology, etc.

        Wireless power (at least not one with such a limited range) is not something that has any serious uses. It might make it easier to recharge your cellphone, but please don't try to argue that this is some critical

    • by Alcimedes (398213)

      Actually, I just wanted a demonstration on power through the air that was totally safe. (not the Sony method)

      http://www.videosift.com/video/Wireless-Electricity-Demonstration-TED-Talk [videosift.com]

      Was a demo by TED talk.

      They actually demo it with a TV, and cell phone application. Uses high frequency vibrations to generate electricity with magnetic waves.

      Super bad ass. Way more interesting that this crap.

    • by Rei (128717)

      To put it in programming terms, yes, the losses are O(N^2). But that says nothing about lower-order factors.

      The whole point of resonant coupling are that you greatly extend the distance at which your losses occur. They still fall off by the same scale, but at a much greater distance. Think of it akin to broadcasting microwaves with a non-directional antenna versus a parabolic dish. Only in this case, you don't have to "aim".

    • Why is anyone wasting any time on useless technology like this? Is it based on consumer demand? If so then consumers need some basic physics and electronics lessons. This is not Star Trek, people, we can't "beam" your [data] to you via subspace, the inverse-square law fully applies, this is not ever going to be efficient or practical! [communication] things require [phone] cords, get over it!

      You'd be ranting about horseless carriages if you were living a hundred years ago.

    • by Grishnakh (216268)

      Actually, from what I remember of Star Trek, there was no wireless power there, either. Phasers, communicators, etc., all were powered by some kind of battery. That's why phasers could be set to overload, and explode, or ran out of power occasionally. "Subspace" was only useful for transmitting communications FTL, not power.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by wronski (821189)
      err... its only inverse-square if the energy is unfocused. Since we are talking about a *beam*, this is clearly not the case. The parallel is not exact, but we have known how to transmit EM radiation directionally for decades (what do you think all those parabolic dishes are for?), thereby avoiding inverse-square attenuation; the EM energy is 'beamed' to a receiving antenna, where it induces a current and hence transmits energy. In this case, the trick is constructing a primary coil such that most of the
      • by jhol13 (1087781)

        It is inverse square even if it is focused.

        Just that the factor might be close to one (or zero, if you count losses).

  • by oldspewey (1303305) on Friday October 02, 2009 @05:07PM (#29621269)
    If this is a Sony technology, you better believe the electricity is going to be in some kind of proprietary format that requires you to purchase special electrons at a 30% premium over industry standard.
  • by Citizen of Earth (569446) on Friday October 02, 2009 @05:11PM (#29621315)
    Only another 42,163.9995 km to go to use this to send solar power from geosynchronous orbit.
  • by Rary (566291) on Friday October 02, 2009 @05:12PM (#29621323)

    Quick! Somebody buy the Sony engineers a pair of these [thinkgeek.com]!

    • by Ponga (934481)

      Quick! Somebody buy the Sony engineers a pair of these [thinkgeek.com]!

      The warning for this "WEC [thinkgeek.com]" device reminds me of an old SNL skit [wikipedia.org]:

      * Warning: Pregnant women, the elderly, and children under 10 should avoid prolonged exposure to Happy Fun Ball.
      * Caution: Happy Fun Ball may suddenly accelerate to dangerous speeds.
      * Happy Fun Ball contains a liquid core, which, if exposed due to rupture, should not be touched, inhaled, or looked at.
      * Do not use Happy Fun Ball on concrete.
      * Discontinue use of Happy Fun Ball if any of the following occurs:
      o

  • by ReallyEvilCanine (991886) on Friday October 02, 2009 @05:21PM (#29621423) Homepage
    Tesla was working on wireless electricity transmission but he was also working on a load of other stuff, all while baking his brain with "health-giving" X-rays. And while Tesla both claimed to have succeeded in wireless transmission and others are purported to have witnessed it, he never once made a claim as to the efficiency which, based on the efficiency of a lot of his other inventions (70% [RMS] for AC, >80% for a coil) was never higher than what Sony's come up with here.
    • by conureman (748753)

      ...Tesla never really disclosed the efficiency of his Colorado Springs transmitter. (And IIRC he wasted a lot of time trying to overcome the grounding problems). He never got to complete the New Jersey installation, which I've always thought may have been because his backers didn't know how to install meters to monetise the reception of the power.

    • There are cases in the early 20th century where farmers stole power by rigging up systems using rolls of barbed wire under high capacity power lines.

    • by thule (9041)
      He did succeed, we just call his wireless electricity "radio" and we measure it in microvolts.
    • by hedwards (940851)
      I'd say it's a good bet that he succeeded in some form, if you're talking about a short enough distance and can tolerate a low enough efficiency, it's not that much different than some of the inventions that he's gotten credit for. He definitely knew about and worked with induction which is usually what this sort of technology is based upon.

      I'd say that it's also a good bet that whatever he managed was impressive by the standards of the day, but of no lasting significance. Most likely he managed to light
  • if I placed it between the 2 units ? I'm not sure that I like the sound of that. Got kids, how long would they survive before being cooked ?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Cyko_01 (1092499)
      nothing, it uses magnetic resonance, like an MRI machine. Are your hands magnetic?
  • A mysterious explosion happens in Tunguska again.
    Run for the hills Siberians!
  • 100 years later.. (Score:3, Informative)

    by waveformwafflehouse (1221950) on Friday October 02, 2009 @05:37PM (#29621559) Homepage
  • This would be great (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ShooterNeo (555040) on Friday October 02, 2009 @05:53PM (#29621683)

    Forget the Sony jokes for a minute. I can think of a great use for this technology : recharging smartphones!

    Essentially, if they can miniaturize the receiver coils sufficiently enough, you could pack them so that they are integrated inside the batteries used in a smartphone. (yes, yes, it is somewhat inconvenient to swap the battery in certain Apple phones...)

    Imagine the possibilities. You could have one of these transmitters in your car, plugged into the cigarette lighter and stuck between the driver's seat and the cupholders. Another could be on top of your nightstand in your bedroom, or wherever you tend to toss your keys, wallet, and phone at the end of the day. A third one would be in your office on your desk.

    If the range is enough (100 centimeters or so) your phone would get recharged while it's still in your pocket! You'd never have to remember to plug it in, and you would be able to use the various power sucking features (games, turn by turn GPS, etc) all you wanted and would almost never run out of battery. It would neatly solve the battery problems with the current generation of smart-phones without having to make the phones bulkier or heavier.

    Problems :

    1. The receiver coil might take up too much space inside the phone.
    2. The range might not be 100 centimeters due to various scaling laws
    3. The electromagnetic charging fields might cause biological tissue damage, making it dangerous to use while in your pocket. It might interfere with pacemakers.
    4. The fields might wipe credit cards or interfere with electronics in your car or office.

    But if these problems aren't that bad, or can be avoided somehow, it would be great!

    • by rgo (986711)

      your phone would get recharged while it's still in your pocket!

      letting sony recharge my phone while it's in my pocket!?

      i'm sorry sir, but my balls don't need to be more warm than they usually are.

  • by Faulkner39 (955290) on Friday October 02, 2009 @05:55PM (#29621703)
    Nikola Tesla [wikipedia.org] invented wireless electricity transfer at the turn of the 20th (yes, 20th) century. He was trying to prototype it by constructing what was called the Wardenclyffe Tower [wikipedia.org]. Of course, everyone during that time thought he was a nut and the funding ran out.

    Tesla is a candidate for the title of "smartest person who ever lived," and without him we probably would not have alternating current, which probably means we would get zapped much more often from our PCs (or "PMFs", i.e. Personal MainFrames). Now, considering the way society neglects its heroes of innovation, just watch Sony finish this and claim to have brought "wireless power" to the world, without ever having mentioned Tesla. "Oh yeah, him? Well we figured this out on our own. We just read a lot of these old books on magnetic resonance and pieced it all together. So smart is we!"
  • People have been demonstrating variations on this for over a century, since Tesla shorted out the city of Colorado Springs.

    It's still largely a solution looking for a problem. There's some areas where this kind of thing is both safe and useful, but they're pretty specialized. Charging or powering personal electronics isn't one of those areas.

  • Hmmm, let's see: "electricity through the air." Where have I heard that before? Oh, that's right. Lightning.
  • Not gonna happen (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ancient_Hacker (751168) on Friday October 02, 2009 @07:08PM (#29622207)

    All this "broadcasting power" stuff is not going to fly.

    All the schemes that have been tried by Tesla and latecomers don't have a chance. Either they're spewing out energy, which goes down in intensity as the square of the distance, or they're like Sony, and making big air-core transformers, where the fields go down as the CUBE of the distance. You'll notice it takes a 40cm coil to send power 50cm. And so on.

    Then there's the problem with all the scattered energy that does not end up in the receiving device. We're talking many watts of power. Microwave ovens are only allowed to leak a thousandth of a watt-- no national safety agency is going to allow ten thousand times that much power wandering around our houses. Yes, the power couples somewhat weakly to flesh, but it's still a lot of power to be bathing in 24/7.

  • Put this in the center of the roads, and power your electric vehicle without a huge battery bank required. Even more efficient because you won't have to be using electricity to haul around 500kg (or however much) of batteries.

    Someday.

    Tesla would be proud.

  • It doesn't send electricity through the air. It sends energy through the air, which is converted from/to electricity at either end.

Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurence of the improbable. - H. L. Mencken

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