No more wires? Home successfully powered using only a Wi-Fi router
Amid all the quite astonishing technology that is now dotted around our homes, an annoying, unsightly and impractical relic of the past still remains: the bloody wires.
Tangled messes of chargers and extension leads could soon be a thing of the past however, with work underway to use the Wi-Fi signals that are now all around us to power our devices.
The New Scientist reports that in Seattle, six households had their electrical gadgets modified with special sensors, and over 24 hours they were all powered solely using the signal from a Wi-Fi router (which still provided internet access throughout).
The technology works by converting radio waves sent out by the routers into direct current voltage using a rectifier - sort of like a solar panel for Wi-Fi signals.
It presents the more aesthetically-pleasing and efficient possibilty of our homes one day being kitted out with sensors rather than messes of leads.
"Where we're heading is to have more sensors in everything around us," said Ben Potter of the University of Reading. "Innovations with microchips mean they can run with less power. For that type of application, this is interesting technology."
The main obstacle right now is that regulations limit Wi-Fi broadcast to 1 watt - enough to power an iPhone 5 but not much more - but if these are relaxed systems could be developed for the mass market in just a few years.
Electromagnetic induction is another alternative to power cables and is already being used in charging pads. While this still requires the device to be touching its charger, a company called WiTricity is using an oscillating magnetic field tuned to a specific frequency to allow for charging from afar - something it plans on rolling out to Prius electric cars next year.
Independent News Service