South Korean researchers have successfully tested a new method of wireless energy transmission using infrared light. The researchers were able to wirelessly transmit power over 30 meters to turn on an LED light.
This new system marks the beginning of the end for charging devices with fixed hardware. Imagine your home or office without any wires – this new technology could be a breakthrough in real wireless charging systems for mobile devices and Internet of Things (IoT) sensors
How does the system work?
This breakthrough technology is very attractive to investors due to its simple and compact design. Developed at Sejong University, the system relies on a transmitter that emits the infrared beam and a receiver that converts it into electrical energy. The impressive 30m separation between transmitter and receiver can then be achieved at a 360 degree angle, covering the range of most home and office spaces. Moreover, its receiver measures only 10mm x 10mm, which can easily be installed on any mobile device.
It is important to note that the safety of the system has also been tested and found to be safe when in contact with the human eye or skin. This was tested by placing a human hand in front of the transmitter, at which point the system goes into low power mode.
Forget fixed hardware
Over the years, Apple, Samsung, and other major smartphone makers have released several iterations of “wireless” chargers to accompany their latest smart products. However, this new method of energy transfer has the potential to truly revolutionize the market by offering a hands-free alternative to existing charging systems. Current wireless chargers rely on induction-based connectivity, which fails to eliminate the stationary element of charging systems. Infrared light, along with other tested methods such as microwave power transfer systems (MPTS), are emerging technologies that will enable a truly wireless future.
According to GlobalData, the automated home market is expected to reach £75 billion ($87.8 billion) by 2025. Industry leaders Alibaba, Amazon and Google will want to integrate this new technology into their speakers existing automated systems, Tmall Genie, Echo and NEST, respectively. . The new technology will complement their holistic approach to home automation.
From automated homes to smart cities
If it is possible to wirelessly charge devices inside the house using infrared light, could we extend it to the urban sphere? In theory, a transmitter can be installed anywhere and provide wireless charging to a receiver within range. Power and telecommunications companies will consider the possibility of a future where power grids are used to charge mobile devices. In this future, the consumer will be able to recharge their devices anywhere for an additional price added to their monthly bill.
Moreover, interest in this new technology has also emerged in the electric vehicle (EV) market. In China, researchers are studying the possibility of wirelessly charging electric vehicles using bus lines in urban areas. More concretely, manufacturers of electric vehicles may even be able to transform their existing parking lot charging stations to become wireless.
Despite the optimism, South Korean researchers warn that improvements to the new infrared system are needed. They continue to work on improving transmitter efficiency and developing a way to use the system on multiple receivers simultaneously. Further research is also needed to attach a battery to the receiver to create a charging system.
Whether inside or outside the home, this new technology will change the consumer experience with smart products. Therefore, investors will be increasingly alert to laboratory developments in wireless power transmission.