To charge your smartphone, you still need to have some kind of cable running power to it from an electrical socket. But several companies have touted the possibility that over-the-air charging will soon render chargers obsolete.
Start-ups like Guru and Wi-Charge have been busy showing off prototype devices that can transmit electricity entirely without wires.
These relatively small power sources can remotely power devices by bombarding them with high-frequency radio waves.
Imagine, for instance, a light bulb lighting up with no cables attached or a smartphone charging as you carry it around a room.
At this year's CES tech fair, GuRu displayed one of the first ready devices, which looks a bit like a desk lamp, while Wi-Charge touted its gadgets for wirelessly powering smart speakers like Amazon's Echo Dot and Google's Home Mini.
The companies emphasise that the radiation from such long-range wireless power sources is completely harmless for humans.
Still too inefficient
But while such products may mark a huge step forwards in how we power electric devices, they are also a step backwards in terms of efficiency.
That's because of all the electricity these power sources transmit, only a measly 10% actually arrives at the device, Wi-Charge admits.
In other words, to send one watt of electricity to a device, you need to send 10 watts to the system, nine of which are essentially wasted.
At a time when many consumers are looking for ways to reduce their energy consumption, the idea of as much as a ten-fold increase to your electricity bill seems like a big price to pay for no cables.
But if companies like Wi-Charge and GuRu can deliver an efficient means of powering devices, then they may just untether us from our wall sockets once and for all. – dpa
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