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A Treo Battery Powered Wirelessly?

Ever since watching a documentary about Nikola Tesla a few years ago I have been fascinated with the idea and potential of “wireless electricity” – a technology that would effectively allow you to power your Treo battery without the need to plug it into a charger or cradle

Powercast SystemA company called Powercast is now trying to make this radical vision a reality with a revolutionary system that would allow small electronic devices (such as phones, PDA’s, MP3 players) to be powered wirelessly using radio frequency (RF).

1) A “Powercaster” transmitter plugs into the wall socket and broadcasts safe, low-power radio waves at a predetermined frequency.

2) The radio waves change their frequency as they bounce off objects and walls.

Powerharvester3) Tiny receivers (pictured here on the right next to a quarter) called “Powerharvesters” placed in your devices “hear” frequencies around the original one sent by the transmitter – capturing up to 70 percent of the radio signal’s energy (5 to 7 times more than other methods).  That energy is then converted into DC electricity to power your device.

There are still some limitations to the technology though as the Powerharvester can only capture a few milliwatts of energy and devices must be placed within a couple of feet of the transmitter.  This means that even if you placed a fully depleted Treo battery within a Powercast zone it would still only charge about 50% overnight. 

Current Powercast applications for mobile phones are therefore more geared at trickle charging your device continuously when working – for example at the office by simply placing your Treo on your desk within range of the transmitter would keep it charged at full capacity throughout the day without the need to ever plug it in.

As with other similar companies pushing “wireless energy” the greatest hurdle remains convincing consumer electronics manufacturers – particularly cell phone manufacturers – to add this technology into their devices.  Even though the Powercast system is undeniably very ‘cool’, for now at least I don’t believe that the benefits are quite enough to build a winning argument in the smartphone space.  A more likely alternative will be the eventual rise of fuel-cell batteries or other high-capacity battery that promises to keep your Treo powered for a week or more. 

In the meantime I guess that I’ll just have to continue using my Sync & Charge cable, new Palm Treo battery chargerPalm cradle kit and other favourite Power & Sync solutions…

Read more about Nikola Tesla [Wikipedia]

Treonauts always work at full power

Posted by Andrew on May 28, 2007 at 09:37 AM

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by James | May 28, 2007 9:54:06 AM

Interesting... I think that if Powercast could make a USB-powered transmitter instead of a wall-powered transmitter that could open up even more applications. For example I can easily see how this might help to keep both my Treo and my bluetooth headset fully charged all the time while sitting on my desk or when on a trip via my laptop's USB port.

by John Moore | May 28, 2007 2:03:20 PM

There is a bit of nonsense here. Radio signals don't "change frequencies" as they bounce off of things.

On the other hand, in general such a thing might work (power transmission doesn't depend on the frequency changing), with very little of the power sent by the station actually making it in to charge the battery.

by mstein | May 28, 2007 2:30:46 PM


@john Agreed but they do attentuate and will change amplitutde which presumably will affect whatever inductance mechanism they're using.

Overall though it's something we got concerned about in our household with young children. We have several devices which pump energy into the air either deliberately or as a by-product of their primary use eg. all wifi devices, cell phones, monitors & TVs to name a few.

There have been studies on the effects of these on developing children (mainly in Europe) and of course there's all the studies into luekemia clusters near power lines. None are conclusive (that I know of) but mainy conclude there is a statistical negative effect relationship on the human body.

Granted the power range is smaller than a power line but then so is the distance to the point where you could even say it's worse than a power line despite thousands of watts travelling down it.

Thats' because the effects vary with the square of distance (the inverse square law). So even if there's thousands of volts and millions of watts if you're 500 meters away it's nothing like the effects of a wifi card in your notebook on your lap or the cell phone by your ear.

Anyway point being, only time tell what effects all these energy pumps will have on the molecules, in particular DNA, of our bodies and importantly, on the rapidly dividing ones in a child's body.


by pasha | May 28, 2007 8:13:42 PM

I have a similar concern to Mr. Stein above. With all the wifi, radio, cell-phone, microwave, etc. waves around, I ask myself whether I want yet another device spreading waves around and through my body, as well as all my family. :-?

by lou | May 29, 2007 3:13:57 PM

I doubt that cell phone manufacturers would adopt this technology in fear that they would lose revenue from accessory battery chargers.

by Marvin | May 30, 2007 5:09:24 PM

Dear Treonauts,
Please!!!!Don't give any spectrum polutions ideas to thoughtless garbage transmitting profiteers! Our usable spectrum is polluted enough along with the new plans for over-powered streaming WiFi type services planning to occupy the soon to be abandoned analog TV spectrum space. Our electromagnetic spectrum belongs to the people; we must be good stewards in the spirit of conservation and care; just as if the "ether" were a rain forest or other protected natural treasure.

by ashok | Mar 22, 2008 4:43:39 PM

Actually speaking this technology eliminates e-waste.
It reduces the problem of electric shots. and hence it is welcomable one. . .

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