Tesla Would Be Proud: Two Types of Wireless Charging Raise Expectations

Carl Weinschenk
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The Impact of Mobility on the Enterprise

There really isn’t anything new under the sun. More than a century ago, Nikola Tesla made great strides in his dream of the wireless transmission of electricity. Tesla came up short, but his dream increasingly is coming true more than a century later.

Popular Science and InformationWeek report on research from the University of Washington that could pave the way for devices to be charged by Wi-Fi. The InformationWeek story says that the approach, which of course is called power over Wi-Fi (PoWiFi), could work at up to 28 feet. Prototypes (temperature and camera sensors) are operational to 20 feet.

Popular Science has more detail, saying that about 1 watt of power is transmitted as a normal part of Wi-Fi operations. The technology is aimed at capturing and putting that energy to work. The 1 watt of power isn’t enough to charge phones or perform other higher-level jobs. However, many tasks associated with the Internet of Things (IoT) can be satisfied. Wrote Dave Gershgorn:

This technology isn’t new. Companies like Energous have already brought products to market that send power over similar Wi-Fi signals, and they claim to be able to charge cell phones. Yet the novel feature of PoWiFi is the ability to harness power with pre-existing hardware, and the University of Washington team says their routers transmit both power and data in the same signal.


Another type of wireless charging is in the news. The focus of a quickly growing ecosystem is aimed at simplifying life for users and realizing the great economic and environmental savings of obsoleting wired charging accessories.

Three consortia were aimed at mobile device wireless charging: The Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP), the Power Matters Alliance (PMA) and Qi (from the Wireless Power Consortium). Late last month, A4WP and PMA announced that they are merging. The two had been talking about such a move for more than a year, according to ReadWrite.

wirelessThe combined entity is not yet named. Reporter Brian Rubin suggests that the consolidation will push the category forward because a multimode approach (that includes PMA’s magnetic induction and A4WP’s resonance approaches) is likely to entice manufacturers to include the technology in devices.

It is unclear if this piece at Trusted Reviews, which highlights Intel’s assessment of the wireless charging landscape, was written with the merger in mind. In any case, the story says that wireless charging is becoming more mainstream. Intel says that this capability “will soon be present in all handsets, tablets and laptops.”

It appears that the days of wired charging accessories are coming to an end. It also seems that a method will be developed that will keep the trillions of sensors and other low-power IoT elements humming. Tesla, one of the true geniuses of modern science and technology, would be proud.

Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at cweinsch@optonline.net and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.



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