Unplugged

Disney Research team creates a room of wireless electrical supply

National Technology

Imagine a world where you no longer have to fight for a plug to charge your phone. Imagine just walking into a room for endless battery life.

Well, a team at Disney Research has managed to create just that: a room that can wirelessly power ten objects at once without a single plug or cord. The “room-scale ubiquitous wireless power delivery system,” as they call it, can put almost 1,900 watts of power into the room at a time.

The catch is that the room must be designed and built specifically to accommodate the system. The prototype room built by the Disney team is made entirely out of aluminum panels with a copper pipe situated in the middle of the room as part of the power-delivery system.

The system is fairly simple: a signal generator sits outside the room and sends out a 1.32MHz signal that connects to a ring of 15 capacitors mounted on a copper pipe at the center of the room. This creates quasistatic cavity resonance (QSCR), as Disney calls it (almost as easy to say as Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious). Once everything is turned on and contained in the aluminum-clad room, a uniform magnetic field is created and can be “tapped into” to for power.

As of right now, there are still a few concerns. For starters, a human can’t stand within 46 centimeters of the copper pole or they will exceed the specific absorption rate (SAR) the human body can withstand without harm. Possible solutions include an automatic shut off for the system if someone comes too close or just putting a wall around the pole. But who would put a column in the middle of the room?

There is also an issue with pumping power into the room if there aren’t enough objects in the room to absorb it. Because of the enclosure, the unabsorbed power stays in the room, which could become dangerous if it built up past the acceptable SAR limits.

The good news is that the system can be scaled up or down to create charging stations or cabinets, and the hope is that someday the system won’t require a specially-made room to function.

For now, I would keep that wall charger handy.

To read more about the science behind the system click here.

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