There’s always been stray electricity bouncing invisibly and silently here and there all around us. But until now, we’ve never been able to capture it and power devices.
Picture your cell phone charging up the second you sit down at your desk, and you start to get a sense of the opportunity. How big can it get? “The sky’s the limit,” says John Shearer, Powercast’s founder and CEO. He estimates shipping “many millions of units” by the end of 2008.
For years, electricity experts said this kind of thing couldn’t be done. “If you had asked me seven months ago if this was possible, I would have said, ‘Are you dreaming? Have you been smoking something?'” says Govi Rao, vice president and general manager of solid-state lighting at Philips “But to see it work is just amazing. It could revolutionize what we know about power.”
So impressed was Rao after witnessing Powercast’s demo last summer that he walked away jotting down a list of the industries to which the technology could immediately be applied: lighting, peripherals, all kinds of handheld electronics. Philips partnered with Powercast last July, and their first joint product, a wirelessly powered LED light stick, will hit the market this year. Computer peripherals, such as a wireless keyboard and mouse, will follow in 2008.
Apparently the company has “signed nondisclosure agreements to develop products with more than 100 companies (Philips, for instance), including major manufacturers of cellphones, MP3 players, automotive parts, temperature sensors, hearing aids, and medical implants.” That last one is particularly important because it could keep pacemakers charged forever. Imagine never having to replace batteries.
I hope this tech comes out soon.