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 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. The impact of wireless power for education will primarily be felt in learning spaces; the devices we carry will become more useful and easier to maintain, with increased opportunity for longer use in a variety of settings.

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

  • - paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Nov 14, 2011It would remove one barrier to using some of the learning tools which are becoming relevant in our learning spaces: the concern about not being able to power those tools sufficiently to meet our training-teaching-learning needs.
  • Absolutely remove barriers! I work in a library, and the main barrier to collaborating over computers (or collaborating virtually using computers) is the lack of outlets in the building. Wireless power would enable people to assume computer availability (and mobile phone availability, etc etc) in a way that they can't at the present. - lauren.pressley lauren.pressley Nov 19, 2011
  • Could transform lab work and facilitate the always on -always connected world of learning- DaveP DaveP Nov 20, 2011

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

  • - paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Nov 14, 2011Looks complete to me; in fact, when I went looking for more information on the topic, I found something that looked strangely familiar--and realized that the first source of information I located online was the description, located through the New Media Consortium's navigator.

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, or creative expression?

  • - paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Nov 14, 2011The introduction to this section clearly states the case for and benefits of looking to incorporate wireless power technology into training-teaching-learning when it becomes practical and economically feasible to do so, and it seems as if the need will only increase as teachers, trainers, and learners continue expanding the number of mobile devices they use in the learning process. The obvious impact of having wireless power available is that we will be able to incorporate more of the tools available to us into the learning process without creating rooms with walls full of electrical outlets or rivers of power extension cords flowing around our ankles as we move around our physical learning spaces. Thinking even more grandly: if wireless power becomes as pervasive as WiFi Internet access has become (eg., in academic and public libraries; all-pervasive coffee shops like Starbucks and others; airports; airplanes--the list just keeps growing), we will continue to expand the concept of a learning space to include any place that has WiFi Internet access/3G/4G/etc. and wireless power capabilities to power the laptops, smartphones, tablets, and other tools we are already using. A look at the TED bio for Eric Giler (http://www.ted.com/speakers/eric_giler.html) and Giler's August 2009 TED talk (http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/eric_giler_demos_wireless_electricity.html) offer us a glimpse of the possibilities.
  • another response here

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

- paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Nov 14, 2011The following two links suggest that Carnegie Mellon may be among the leaders in exploring this in academic settings: a posting on HigherEdJobs.com, from Carnegie Mellon University, to recruit a "post doctoral fellow in wireless power" (August 15, 2011; http://www.higheredjobs.com/m/details.cfm?JobCode=175547828&Title=Post%20Doctoral%20Fellow%20in%20Wireless%20Power) and a paper about wireless power transfer, written by Carnegie Mellon University researchers (July 2009, http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~claytronics/papers/cannon-tranpe09.pdf).
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