Cutting the Final Cord

As legend would have it, in 1891 Nikola Tesla lit electric lamps at both of his New York laboratories, one on South Fifth Avenue, the other at 46 E. Houston Street, providing evidence for the potential of wireless power transmission. He eventually convinced famous venture capitalists, J. P. Morgan, to back the constuction of an enormous tower on Long Island, purpose being to create a "world system" of electrical power dissemination, starting with a "Radio City" in Shoreham, New York.

In 1903, the "rich man's panic" hit Wall Street, and Morgan demanded to know how the tower could provide a reliable stream of income to investors. Tesla had no convincing answer, and support for the project slowly dried up. Some in the press accused it of being a hoax. The tower was demolished during World War I, on orders of the United States Government. Tesla died in ignomy and disgrace.

But Tesla ... was ... right.

Flash forward to 2007. An unassuming MIT professor, Marin Soljačić (pronounced Soul-ya-cheech), stood in his pajamas staring at his wife's cell phone on the kitchen counter. It was the sixth time that month he was wakened by the mobile phone beeping to let him know it needed a charge. At that moment, inspiration struck: “There is electricity wired all through this house, all through my office -- everywhere! This phone should take care of its own charging!!” The answer: coupled resonators. The company his revolutionary idea fostered: WiTricity.

WiTricity power source and capture devices are specially designed magnetic resonators that efficiently transfer power over large distances via the magnetic near-field. These proprietary source/device designs, and the electronic systems that control them, support efficient energy transfer over distances many times the size of the devices themselves.

According to WiTricity Corp. Home ? Wireless Electricity Delivered Over Distance "Magnetic fields interact very weakly with biological organisms —- people and animals -— and are scientifically regarded to be safe." WiTricity products are being designed to comply with applicable safety standards and regulations. The technology is capable of scaling from applications that run on milliwatts to those requiring several kilowatts of power.

Here's how it works.

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The WiTricity power source, above, is connected to AC power. The blue lines represent the magnetic near-field induced by the power source. The yellow lines represent the flow of energy from the source to the WiTicity capture coil, which is shown powering a light bulb. Note that this diagram also shows how the magnetic field (blue lines) can wrap around a conductive obstacle between the power source and the capture device.

Fifty U.S. and international patents have been granted to WiTricity with another 75 in the works. Ten of these were awarded as recently as March of 2013. WiTricity has been profitable for well over a year now, and they recently secured $25 million in Series E financing from new and existing investors including Intel Capital and Hon Hai/ Foxconn, one of the world’s largest consumer electronics manufacturers. With this move they more than doubled their investment capital.

According to CEO Eric Giler, the goal is to further develop designs and products for wireless charging in the consumer electronics, electric vehicle, defense and medical device industries, as well as allowing WiTricity to pursue other strategic growth opportunities. "WiTricity's vision is to usher in a world where wireless power is so ubiquitous, you never have to think about plugging in again," In a Fox News interview, he stated we should see consumer household products on the shelves within 12 to 18 months.

According to one analyst firm, IMS Research, the market for wireless power will grow 86.5 percent annually, reaching $4.5 billion across the globe in 2016. WiTricity is poised to capture that market with the help of partnerships with major manufacturers such as Audi, Delphi, Haier, IHI, MediaTek, Mitsubishi, and Thoratec.


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