One of the greatest dreams of Nicola Tesla was, literally, wireless electricity. Power, everywhere, no matter what your location, no matter what your gadget. And it looks like Cota might be the first step to making that dream a reality.
Power Without Wires
It’s not really as weird as you might think, and this thing won’t be firing lightning bolts all over your house. Essentially it consists of two parts: A charger (really a transmitter) and a receiver. Receivers can be built into, well, anything: Phones, game consoles, TVs, your pants, whatever. The transmitter has a relatively limited range: 30 feet. Of course, properly placed, this can cover most of a second story home, and if you’ve got a big house, just get another charger.
Once the charger has a receiver in range, it uses a phased array to beam power directly to the receiver. This is actually a fairly common design in terms of sending signals; phased arrays are used to make a signal more directional. The result is that you can pick up an object and walk around your house with it, and you’ll keep getting power as the charger locks on.
No Wires, or Lasers, or Magnets
Ossia, Cota’s developer, claims the technology has been in the works for six years and doesn’t use magnetic fields, microwaves, or most other methods of wireless power transfer, largely because those can be somewhat unsafe for humans.
The big question is when we’ll start seeing this technology. Cota is a huge step forward in wireless power, but huge steps forward need to be available at Best Buy, or inside your favorite piece of technology, to be something that will affect your life. That said, we expect to see this sooner rather than later; dying batteries are a problem for many electronics companies, and for them, constantly charging batteries can’t come soon enough.
Dan Seitz is an obsessive nerd living in New England. He lives in the Boston area with a fiancee, a dog, a cat, and far too many objects with processors.