Those bulky, tangled up charger cords are so 20th century. One MIT physics professor, Marin Soljacic, is paving the way for something which just a few years ago would have seemed like pure science fiction: wireless electricity… or more precisely, wireless energy fields.
As reported by CNN Money, the good professor “learned that if you could get two magnetic fields to resonate -- to sing the same note, in effect -- they could transfer an electric current. With two large magnetic coils, he found a way to throw 60 watts across a room, powering a lightbulb. MIT, his employer, quickly patented the technology and encouraged Soljacicto start a company.”
And start a company he did: WiTricity (wireless electricity, get it?) has 15 employees at the moment. This could be huge. Not only would you be able to perpetually recharge your cell phone, laptop, or iPod simply by walking into a room with a wireless field charger… eventually, perhaps, I could see this technology employed in much larger scenarios—highways filled with lightweight electric vehicles, all of them sipping invisible magnetic field fuel without having to stop for a recharge. Electric airplanes soaring overhead, tapping into the same field, rather than using expensive jet fuel.
It would revolutionize the way electric power is delivered. Of course, some of that stuff is still not quite ready for primetime—and the public may take some time to get used to the notion of wireless energy: “'There's a real perceptual problem,' says CEO Eric Giler. 'People think we're putting electricity in the air, and that's called lightning, and they know to stay away from that.'”
It’s a promising technology to keep your eye on. In the meantime, if you travel, you may still want to take a cell phone charger with you. And yes, we don't know exactly how this stuff works either... Maybe Soljacic can clarify at some point, after he wins every science prize out there. Magnets "singing the same note" doesn't sound like the full explanation to us.