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SCIENCE & TECH
Science

Wireless charging

Published 1st May 2012

In September 1882, Thomas Edison turned on his first power station, supplying 110 volts of direct current to 59 customers in Manhattan. Jump forward 130 years and we now see humanity approaching the advent of a new way of powering our technology.

Wireless power has been around for a few years, however it hasn't been given much of a domestic life, having instead been confined to research labs and left to the (affectionately named) boffins to tweak with.

In 2010 a common standard between manufacturers was agreed for wireless charging in mobile devices and is slowly becoming more commonplace. ‘Powermats’ are already being sold in the UK and are able to charge devices like Smartphones, Sat-Navs, and handheld games consoles just by placing them on-top. Now in 2012 there will be an agreement in place for household appliances, potentially eliminating the need to plug in your kettle every time you want a 'cuppa' - although it seems already they are thinking a little bigger.

Qualcomm, a leading firm in wireless power, has already created Wireless Electric Vehicle Charging and has managed to achieve a 90% transmission efficiency (not far off mains power). The charging unit can be buried under the ground or simply mounted to the floor and the car only needs to park generally above it for charging to begin.

Qualcomm have teamed up with TFL, the Government, and the Mayor of London and are launching a pre-commercial trial for up to 50 vehicles and 13 wireless charging points around the capital in 2012, and already companies are looking into embedding this technology in the roads and powering your car as you drive.


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