Intel Thursday unveiled something Nikola Tesla could only dream of. The company this week was demonstrating the ability to transmit 60 watts of electrical power across three feet of thin air with 75 percent efficiency.
I had a toothbrush once that recharged without wires. Every time the handheld part was placed on the base, it used electromagnetic induction to charge the batteries from the base with no electrical connection between the two. The technology Intel was demonstrating at its annual Intel Developers Forum this week was based on the very same principles. One practical application would be to install base units in office desks and enable laptops, cell phones and other portable devices to receive power whenever they are near or on the desk. Other applications might include small kitchen appliances that receive power just by sitting on a counter top; no need for a plug. Could unlimited laptop power aboard commercial airliners be far off? I'd pay a little extra for that one.
According to a New York Times article published Wednesday, the technology is based on a research project led by Intel's Joshua Smith in Seattle. "[It] builds on the work of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology physicist Marin Soljacic, who pioneered the idea of wirelessly transmitting power using resonant magnetic fields." Hmmm. No mention of Tesla. The MIT group refers to the idea as WiTricity, a combination of wireless and electricity.
Being from Long Island, I found it interesting while researching this article that Tesla's Wardenclyff Tower was constructed in Shoreham, not far from where I am sitting right now. That power, which ultimately transmitted only radio signals, was also intended to broadcast electrical power. Now that would have been wireless radio. Tesla held the patent for radio before Marconi, the man widely credited with its invention, and for which he received the Nobel prize.