Holy Grail Watch: Wireless power just about there

June 30, 2009 by Dave Haynes

A company called PowerBeam is starting to make noise about patented technology that transmit power over not-all-that short distances using optical technology, making all kinds of retail digital signage people bouncy at the prospects of getting screens in places where no power is readily available.

According to the company, based in San Jose, California, its technology is meant for the space industry, as well as consumer and commercial use. In a rare sighting, digital signage is actually cited as a good application.

From the Space 2.0 blog:

PowerBeam’s patented wireless electricity system uses Powmitters™ and Powceivers™ to deliver power without wires. The optical technology turns electricity into optical power. That power is then beamed across open space into a receiver. Similar to a solar cell, the receiver turns the optical power back into electricity. Whatever device is attached to the receiver is powered without any wires.

“No matter what you do, you cannot have an outlet in every square foot within a room. With PowerBeam, you can,” Surdi said. “We have the ability to ‘beam’ power to any device anywhere within line of sight giving you the freedom to live truly wirelessly. Wireless technology is now feasible.”

This is, according to Surdi, the natural evolution and the essence of the wireless trend; the ability to control where, when and how much power is transmitted and to what it is transmitted.

PowerBeam expects to have its technology in the market within 18 months, connecting items such as digital signage displays in retail stores, small TVs, digital photo frames, home theaters and lighting fixtures.

For anyone who has been on the operational side of this business, one of the biggest roadblocks to deployments in retail is getting power to the aisles in older stores (1,000s and 1,000s of older stores) that had no reason to run electricity to the shelves.  The theory here is that with transmitters safely out of line of sight of people or stuff, power could be sent at least across parts of the store without said wires.

This page tells you how it works

The company suggest it is safe and if people get in the way, the power shuts off instead of giving you a nice little tingle or jolt.

You can watch a video of a classic engineering type- khakis and running shoes – walking through how the thing works over a 10 metre throw.

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