Technology

Wireless electricity demo: Eric Giler on TED.com

Posted by: Matthew Trost

Eric Giler wants to untangle our wired lives with cable-free electric power. Here, he covers what this sci-fi tech offers, and demos MIT’s breakthrough version, WiTricity — a near-to-market invention that may soon recharge your cell phone, car, pacemaker.(Recorded at TEDGlobal 2009, July 2009 in Oxford, UK. Duration: 10:10)

Twitter URL: http://on.ted.com/2V

Watch Eric Giler’s talk on TED.com, where you can download this TEDTalk, rate it, comment on it and find other talks and performances from our archive of 475+ TEDTalks.

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Comments (38)

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  • demo daym commented on Oct 24 2010

    this is a nice and good news

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  • samul swan commented on Jul 2 2010

    Really an interesting post.Thanks for an insightful post.It’s my first visit.I like very much your way of presentation.Keep up the good works and hope you post again soon.
    http://www.business-energy-australia.com.au/

  • Joseph Waisman commented on Jun 21 2010

    I’ve thought a lot about this, and have to conclude that the tech is great for those who have limited dexterity, for example those with arthritis. For the rest of us, being too lazy to plug in a charger is bad. This device is no doubt less than 100% efficient…energy is lost when 1) converting electricity to a magnetic field, 2) from a magnetic field to electricity and 3) when the charge reciever is less than 100% of the magnetic fields volume (always).

    If people become to lazy to plug in appliances and this device becomes popular it will result in more electricity being used. This of course contributes to global warming, depletion of natural resources, higher electricity bills. Great invention…most of it’s applications will be bad for the environment.

  • sandra tycova commented on Oct 9 2009

    Another example of corporate greed that kept this from us for many decades. This is, quite possibly, the realization of Tesla%u2019s dream, though he was ridiculed out of support for pursuing it.
    Gadgets

  • Loiseau Lucien commented on Oct 8 2009

    I wonder if one could do the same using the magnetic field of the earth instead of the one generated by a plugged device.

    • Joseph Waisman commented on Jun 21 2010

      In theory yes…in practice the amount of electricity generated would likely be much less than what is required to build the energy capture device. Eric Giler’s device works by fluctuating the magnetic field. A static magnetic field can be used to transmit power, however it either 1) pulls an object towards it until the object is as close as it can get at which point maximum power has been transmitted, or 2) it pushes the object away and the magnetic field strength weakens as the distance increases. What this device does is cycles the power on/off, or cycles north/south. Unless the earth does that at some location this tech would be able to capture power from the earth.

  • starlight enterprise commented on Sep 1 2009

    Just one question.

    The how does the device get the energy it needs to make a magnetic field? does it come from batteries, power lines, the sun?

    If so then it seems to me that this is not very efficient technology.

    Does anybody have answers?

    • Constantine Moustakakis commented on Sep 9 2009

      the power of the device could be any of the source you mentioned. If you think that is not very efficient technology then you might think the same about wifi. It is the same concept: one plugged device, and the other connect wirless. I bet you don’t want have your laptop plugged via ethernet cable when you want to go in another room of your house, why not with its power? you could get your laptop anywhere in the house without caring about the power left.

  • Q dub commented on Aug 31 2009

    It could also introduce a whole new issue brought on by Wifi: power theft! I wonder how this can be coupled with a data service to achieve permissionining capability.

    • Constantine Moustakakis commented on Sep 9 2009

      as noticed in the video, the only way to get electricity from it, is being in the magetic field, so if this technology being applied -lets say in a house- in order to “steel” electricity is to break into the house. same thing as the wifi, if you want access, first you need to be in the broadcasting zone.

    • starlight enterprise commented on Sep 11 2009

      Well the guy on the video said that the the receiver device is on a very specific channel, so I figure that each receiver is secured like wifi?

  • ted JOhnson commented on Aug 29 2009

    Great, now how can we harness the power to supply this technology by reinventing the power grid.

  • Eugen Bacic commented on Aug 28 2009

    I saw the same demo in 2002 in Zagreb, Croatia at their Science & Tech Museum. They used Tesla’s resonance frequency work to light bulbs, power a radio, etc. It was impressive, especially as they used equipment that honestly looked like it might have come right out of Tesla’s lab.

    This is interesting, but it’s been done before. Maybe we’re ready for this type of stuff but Tesla’s wireless work was resonance based. I’d recommend the scientists from MIT make a pilgrimage out to Zagreb’s Museum and see what Tesla did more than a century ago. It might be insightful.

  • Ethan ... commented on Aug 28 2009

    I’m sorry. This is interesting and cool, but not directly new or very innovative IMHO.

    Just google for Nikola Tesla[1], Konstatin Meyl[2], etc.

    [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wireless_energy_transfer#Electrical_conduction

    [2] http://www.meyl.eu/go/index.php?dir=45_Videos-on-demand&page=1&sublevel=0

  • Albert Zablit commented on Aug 27 2009

    Very interesting concept and execution.
    I do, however, have trouble understanding the cell phones presentation. If they had a battery inside and were in sleep mode, wouldn’t that mean they already had power to start with? What about completely removing the battery (i know, i know, Apple…) and demonstrate the wireless operation? I’d appreciate any insight on the matter.

    Albert

    • Yiannis Themelis commented on Aug 28 2009

      The purpose of the presentation was to show that the phones would begin charging their batteries when inside the field. It wan not meant to present a mobile device without a battery, but a device that would automatically begin charging when wireless electricity would become available. Taking the battery out all together would be irrelevant IMHO as this system won’t be available everywhere in a city, or on the road, or the country, so the battery is still a necessary evil.

      • Albert Zablit commented on Aug 28 2009

        He did say “you’re looking at a cell phone powered completely wirelessly” among other things…

        • Yiannis Themelis commented on Aug 29 2009

          True… I’d classify that as a demonstration overstatement. ;-)

  • Mace Moneta commented on Aug 27 2009

    One concern I have that I haven’t seen addressed is accidental resonance. There are many devices today containing coils, transformers and antennas – or simply looped conductors properly arranged (like a necklace in a case perhaps). With small power transfer, these are not a concern, but if you are transferring 100 Watts I see potential for damage, possibly fire.

    One way to address this is for the transmitter to have sufficient intelligence – if the detected resonant receiver does not signal power requirements over a data channel, shut down the transmitter. An accidental resonance entering the field would then terminate transmission.

    Is something like this part of the design?

    • Christoper Ahlin commented on Aug 28 2009

      I don’t know if his things have these kinds of systems but I don’t see a reason for why they wouldn’t have an on/off-switch.

  • Todd Carruth commented on Aug 27 2009

    exciting stuff but I am curious on costs…

    • Revenant One commented on Aug 28 2009

      I believe that the potential for cost savings here is enormous. Non rechargeable batteries would become a thing of the past, a toxic element would be removed from landfills, power lines and poles could be replaced and some of the dangers to line works would be eliminated. Safety costs money and eliminating some of those safety issues could save billions in overhead expenses AND in insurance premiums. Now, I don’t doubt that the cost of migration to this technology would be staggering, but long term (and in some instances the short term) cost savings could be phenomenal.

  • Steven Micham commented on Aug 26 2009

    Very interesting stuff, I wonder, like alot of electronics today, is the transmitter consuming power all the time, or only when a device is “connected”

  • BOB Beckett commented on Aug 26 2009

    Very innovative idea. I would love to explore it more.

    Bob Beckett

  • Janet Gratton commented on Aug 25 2009

    Very clever and commercially a home run I am sure, but I worry about yet another source of electromagnetic radiation. My colleague and I both came down with an autoimmune thyroid condition called Graves disease after our workplace exposed us to improperly shielded electrical cabling. While this relationship has not been proven and I doubt it will be in my lifetime, I am convinced it has ruined my health permanently. It is disheartening that new technologies continue to be rolled out without sufficient testing of long term effects on the environment and most importantly their effects on human health.

    • Jean-Sebastien Payette commented on Aug 27 2009

      I would refer you to the 5:00 minute mark on the video, about how this isn’t a radiative technology. Please watch it (a second time, I assume that you did once already and missed that part)

    • Marc Taylor commented on Aug 30 2009

      The strength of the field is, according to the talk, around the strength of the Earth’s magnetic field, so this contributes little beyond background. Don’t confuse this (or indeed the whisper of radio-frequency energy emitted by electrical cabling) with the radiation which is associated with nuclear fallout. One of the many hazards of fallout is the creation of short-lived isotopes of iodine, which can build up in the thyroid and cause problems — thus iodine pills, which fill up the thyroid with I^127, so I^131 is not taken up… If you were working with extremely high-voltage equipment, then it’s possible that design problems could affect you, but the result would be very different from hyperthyroidism… Take a look at the experiments where frogs and strawberries have been levitated in a magnetic field — you’ll see that a magnetic field tens of thousands of times stronger than the field of this device is pretty safe.