As I was packing for my recent vacation, I realized that I needed to take battery chargers for not just my SmartPhone, but also for my camera, two iPods, as well as my wife’s mobile phone. None of these chargers work on any of the other devices. One solution might be a universal charger, but I also thought it a good time to check in on the state of wireless power, especially electromagnetic inductive coupling. I wondered when this technology might mature from small consumer goods such as charging electric toothbrushes into more commercial uses such as eliminating power cords in PCs and servers. As it turns out, there are several products already available that use induction to charge several devices such as cameras and cell phones at once. Edison Electric's eCouple technology use primary transmission coils to create a magnetic field. Receiving electronic devices use corresponding built-in or plug-in receivers with compatible coils and circuitry to recharge batteries while resting in close proximity. The 2009 Consumer Electronic Show (CES) also showcased PCs, cameras and even products such as blenders that are retrofitted and directly powered through induction.
A Wireless Power Consortium formed in December 2008 has drafted an initial specification, but this is only a beginning. Research at MIT published in 2007 found that a power transmitter might produce a nonradiative” electromagnetic field whereby energy would only be picked up by gad¬gets specially designed to “resonate” with the field. Most of the energy not picked up by a receiver would be reabsorbed by the emitter. This would enable wireless power transmission within a room rather than the few millimeters currently typical of these devices.
Where will all this lead, and what are the benefits for IT, especially in the data center, where power efficiency, not currently optimized in wireless power transfer, is critical?