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By 2012 will iMacs wirelessly power other devices via magnetic fields?

Wireless electricity isn’t just for sci-fi nerds

Two years ago, we asked what the world would be like if wifi came from light bulbs, but over 100 years ago, Nikola Tesla demonstrated what the world would be like if electricity was wireless.

While that didn’t exactly work out, the concept has been reinvigorated as demonstrated by WiTricity CEO Eric Giler above in his TED Talk about the company’s studies at MIT. The appeal to this technology is that it appears to be safe, relying simply on magnetic fields such as those that occur naturally in the globe, whereas some alternatives to WiTricity are questioned by analysts as safe for human use.

Here is how WiTricity works:

Apple and WiTricity sittin’ in a tree

Last week, the Wall Street Journal mentioned Apple was experimenting with a “new way of charging” next year’s iPhone release, and the tech world went wild with speculation, mostly envisioning the induction charger pads such as originally came with Palm Pre or as you see now in mat form charging stations.

This isn’t exactly a “new way of charging,” now is it? Perhaps this new charging mechanism is more closely linked to WiTricity? Now that would be magical, as Apple is so prone to say.

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MacRumors.com has dug up an international patent application from Apple called “Wireless power utilization in a local computing environment.”

iMac to wirelessly power surrounding devices?

The application outlines technologies that appear to function much like WiTricity and makes reference to original paper published by the MIT researchers. The application describes the ability for an iMac to use “resonance power” to virtually charge surrounding keyboards, mice, iPhones, iPads, and iPods whenever they are within in a three foot range to the iMac.

The patent application describes “doing away with clumsy and annoying cables and eliminating the need to replace batteries, an easy to use and efficient local computing environment can be provided to the user.”

Could this truly be the “new” way forward for Apple?

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Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. Eleanor Thorne

    July 11, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    What about folks who have ferric implants, like screws or pins in their hips? Also curious what the impact might be on some of the older pacemakers… I'm sure there's a work around – just curious.

  2. Joe Loomer

    July 11, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    I don't think having a magnetic field and having magnetic properties are the same thing. The human heart actually generates a magnetic and energy field, yet we're not magnets in that sense. Almost any substance on earth has a magnetic field of some sort or another (hello? we're SPINNING around while circling the sun with our own little mooon doing the same thing – it's why we don't just fly off the face of the earth into space).

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  3. Joe Loomer

    July 11, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    Meant to add that I've always thought this was kind of inevitable – a way to "transmit" power like a radio wave. The receiver/converter has always been the technology hurdle – appears about to be solved! Cool!

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