Wireless Power

What is Wireless Power?

Anyone who attends a class or meeting where most of the participants have laptop computers is well aware that there are never enough power outlets—and when they are available, they are invariably located in inconvenient places. Wireless power, already being prototyped by several companies, promises to alleviate the problem by making power for charging batteries in devices readily available. Using near-field inductive coupling, power can be transmitted through special surfaces or even through open space to charge devices within a home, office, school, or other setting. Consumer products are already entering the market; the Powermat, for instance, charges up to three devices placed onto its surface (each device must first be slipped into a compatible sleeve). Fulton Innovation's eCoupled technology is designed to be built into desk- and countertops, enabling not only power transfer but other wireless communications between devices placed on the surfaces. Witricity is developing transmitters that would be embedded in walls or other furniture, transferring power via inductive coupling to receivers attached to devices anywhere within the home or classroom. The impact of wireless power for education will primarily be felt in learning spaces; the devices we carry will become more useful and easier to maintain, with increased opportunity for longer use in a variety of settings.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • Extending the concept of learning spaces in higher ed to locations where power outlets are limited or unavailable. This is likely to extend opportunities for learning generally and time-on-task, as well as for documenting experiences, collecting different kinds of data, and using the current and emerging affordances of technologies to create, document, reflect on, validate, prove, disprove, question etc etc collaboratively or independently - caroline.steel caroline.steel Aug 23, 2010
  • I totally agree with Caroline - and Stephen. So much of our "wireless" activity currently is constrained/governed by the battery power of the devices we are using. - shirley.reushle shirley.reushle Aug 29, 2010
  • I also agree - although the battery life of ipads is already remarkable. It is clear that this would be the removal of a major spatial and temporal impediment that faces both students and staff.- philip.poronnik philip.poronnik Sep 2, 2010
  • At the risk of advancing a contrary view, I wonder if this will really end up as a useful technology in learning environments. Students are increasingly mobile and have been moving in some numbers to iPads and netbooks which show good signs of being able to last a day without charging. They are also light and easy to carry. Smartphones already have this capability. As this trend increases, students will not bother to carry any chargers with them and will simply charge up the devices overnight - nick.tate nick.tate Sep 2, 2010.

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • The safety issues of moving large amounts of energy through spaces used by students need to be seriously considered and make this an unlikely development in the immediate future. The more general issues of power are likely to see more use of devices like the iPad with much longer lives and also the pressure to standardise power connectors and infrastructure - much as the Europeans have done with Cellphone adaptors. - stephen.marshall stephen.marshall Aug 25, 2010
  • I agree with this - nick.tate nick.tate Sep 2, 2010.
  • another response here

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, or creative expression?

  • None in the long term - nick.tate nick.tate Sep 2, 2010.
  • your response here
  • another response here

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

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