More than a hundred years ago, Nikola Tesla invented wireless communication and power generation. He was a man far ahead of his time. Now it looks like the modern world maybe be catching up to his vision. Wireless electricity may be here.
A Boston-based company by the name of WiTricity has come up with a way of transmitting electricity without wires. As the company’s Chief Technology Officer reports to CNN, “we’re not actually putting electricity in the air. What we’re doing is putting a magnetic field in the air.” They do this by building a “source resonator,” which essentially is a coil of wire that generates a magnetic field when power is attached. Bringing a second coil in close proximity will generate an electrical charge.
Sound familiar? According to Arron Hirst:
The technology appears to based upon the original findings of Nikola Tesla. In a patent filed at the U.S Patent and Trademark Office on February 19, 1900, entitled “Apparatus for Transmission of Electrical Energy,” Tesla describes a similar system for delivering electricity from one static point, to another.
Tesla, after advancing wireless communication technology in Colorado Springs, began work on Long Island at Wardenclyffe. His ultimate goal was not only to provide international wireless communication (radio) but develop his system of wireless electrical power transmission. The technology itself seems simple by today’s standards, but it was groundbreaking when Tesla first envisioned the idea. WiTricity has already used the technology “to power laptops, cell-phones, and TVs by attaching resonator coils to batteries.” They are also working on a way to recharge electric cars. On their website they note the potential of wireless power:
Cell phones, game controllers, laptop computers, mobile robots, even electric vehicles capable of re-charging themselves without ever being plugged in. Flat screen TV’s and digital picture frames that hang on the wall—without requiring a wire and plug for power. Industrial systems and medical devices made more reliable by eliminating trouble prone wiring and replaceable batteries.
So perhaps after all these years Nikola Tesla’s technology will finally be coming to fruition. Hopefully WiTricity’s advances will recognize Tesla’s amazing contributions to the field. For more on how wireless power works (including your electric toothbrush), check out this very readable article. And for a fun read, check out author Thomas Waite’s use of Tesla’s wireless idea in his novel, Terminal Velocity.
David J. Kent has been a scientist for thirty-five years, is an avid science traveler, and an independent Abraham Lincoln historian. He is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity (now in its 5th printing) and two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate. His book on Thomas Edison is due in Barnes and Noble stores in July 2016.