Is wireless power about to become a reality? It sure sounds that way, according to a piece in Business 2.0 magazine about a company called Powercast, which says it has developed a way of powering devices (albeit fairly low-voltage ones for now) without power cords or bricks. And electronics giant Philips has signed a deal with Powercast to bring its technology to market.
It may sound incredible — and Ben Metcalfe seems to think it’s an April Fool’s joke come early — but wireless power is not a fantasy. In fact, the eccentric genius Nikolai Tesla, who invented alternating current or AC power, was pretty close to developing wireless power around the turn of the century, but didn’t quite make it — in part because his financial backer, J.P. Morgan, pulled out. It’s possible that his feud with fellow genius Thomas Edison (who favoured direct current power) had something to do with it, but I can’t say for sure.
And there is already what amounts to a wireless-power company, a company called Splashpower.com, which uses adapters that attach to electrical devices, and then charges those devices whenever they are placed on a special mat. But that involves actual contact between the device and the mat — Powercast says it can broadcast power to devices up to six feet away, through relatively small and inexpensive chips the size of a dime.
(in unrelated news, some guy likes to build giant Tesla coils in his garage).