Thursday, April 13, 2006

Splashpower – Wireless Power for Wireless Devices

I was in a meeting a few months ago with some fellow engineers and the comment came up about powering devices by wireless means. Everyone laughed and said, if we could do that, we would be infinitely rich. Well, it turns out people are actually doing it. There are two technologies available to do it. The first uses inductive coupling which is also used in recharging electric toothbrushes and smart tags. A startup in the UK, called Splashpower is one of the first vendors using this technology with the added advantage of charging multiple devices at the same time. According to their patent, a laminar surfaced device creates an electromagnetic field which transfers energy to a similar device when that device is within range and oriented in a parallel fashion.

The second technology uses an acoustic signal (ultrasonic) to excite a piezoelectric crystal which converts acoustic energy into electrical energy. According to patent 6,737, 789 a piezoelectric device along with a transformer (to increase the output voltage), and a rectifier (to create a single polarity) can generate electrical outputs based on a mechanical (in this case an acoustic wave) input.

The challenge with both technologies is that the device to be charged must be within close proximity of the charging device. So while the device to be charged is not actually connected to the charger, it’s not too far from it. The technology is in its early stage and could become viable if the distance from the charger to the device were increased.

Best regards,
Hall T.