What is Wireless Power?


Anyone who attends a class or meeting where most of the participants have laptop computers is well aware that there are never enough power outlets — and when they are available, they are invariably located in inconvenient places. Wireless power, already being prototyped by several companies, promises to alleviate the problem by making power for charging batteries in devices readily available. Using near-field inductive coupling, power can be transmitted through special surfaces or even through open space to charge devices within a home, office, school, or other setting. Consumer products are already entering the market; the Powermat, for instance, charges up to three devices placed onto its surface (each device must first be slipped into a compatible sleeve). Fulton Innovation's eCoupled technology is designed to be built into desk and countertops, enabling not only power transfer but also other wireless communications between devices placed on the surfaces. Witricity is developing transmitters that would be embedded in walls or other furniture, transferring power via inductive coupling to receivers attached to devices anywhere within the home or classroom. However, it is important to note that there have been health risks associated with using wireless power that need to be resolved before wide-scale adoption.

INSTRUCTIONS: Enter your responses to the questions below. This is most easily done by moving your cursor to the end of the last item and pressing RETURN to create a new bullet point. Please include URLs whenever you can (full URLs will automatically be turned into hyperlinks; please type them out rather than using the linking tools in the toolbar).

Please "sign" your contributions by marking with the code of 4 tildes (~) in a row so that we can follow up with you if we need additional information or leads to examples- this produces a signature when the page is updated, like this: - Sam Sam Jul 21, 2011


(1) How might this technology be relevant to the museums you know best?

  • I voted for this last year because I think this would be so helpful. When is it going to happen? At the Seattle Art Museum we were limited by both the lack of power and cabling, which made implementing interpretive tools difficult if not prohibitive. I believe interpretative technology in the physical museum spaces would be completely different--mobile, ubiquitous, shareable, if we had wireless power. - christina.depaolo christina.depaolo Aug 21, 2011
  • - david.dean david.dean Aug 30, 2011As the prevalence of mobile devices becomes more and more ubiquitous in daily life, the need for continuous energy to power the devices will become more essential. Also, with the power requirements for many mobile devices becoming less, broadcast, RF energy capture, motion-generated, and induction power will be more practical as well. For museums, as they adopt/adapt the technologies of readily available and interactive information transfer using the more efficient and mobile devices, the provision of available energy to visitors will be an imperative and a reasonable expectation.
  • The more mobile we become, the more important wireless power becomes. Susan Hazan from the Israel Museum has been trialing a wireless power solution. In the absence of wireless power, museums should start integrating charging stations for mobile and portable devices into their public spaces. It's a great opportunity to create lounging areas and dwell spaces to enhance the sense of community and quality of visitor experience on site. - nancy.proctor nancy.proctor Sep 1, 2011
  • Another perspective here.

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • Add your perspective here...
  • - david.dean david.dean Aug 30, 2011As with some many of the emerging technologies, the missing element is how these technologies integrate with each other to provide a "cyber-envelope" or "cyber-environment" that an individual carries about with them. Readily available and portable power only has relevance as it applies to those devices that require it.
  • Another perspective here.

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on education and interpretation in museums?

  • Add your perspective here...
  • - david.dean david.dean Aug 30, 2011Coupled with the myriad emerging technological capabilities made available by various devices examined in this Horizon Report, the ready availability of electrical energy to power the devices will enable a more immersive and stress-free (lacking the stress of locating power outlets as one's devices begin to fail) environment for the visitor/learner. Focus will shift from finding or positioning oneself where a power outlet is available to being involved in the learning experience.
  • Another perspective here.

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

  • Add your perspective here...
  • Another perspective here.

Please share information about related projects in our Horizon Project sharing form.