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Apple interested in wireless power to charge devices on store shelves

post #1 of 38
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Apple has shown interest in wirelessly powering and charging its portable devices, allowing products like the iPhone and iPad to be powered up while sealed in packaging and on display at a retail store.

The concept was detailed this week in a new patent application discovered by AppleInsider entitled "Active Electronic Media Packaging." It describes an active packaging system that would supply power and data to devices, allowing them to display content and show off features to customers while on display in a store.

The proposed invention aims to replace the typical labels and other advertising that is found on the outside of product packaging. Instead, Apple's method would let the product sell itself.

"Although typical packaging for an electronic media device may be designed to adequately protect the device from shock or damage, the packaging is extremely limited in other respects," the filing reads. "For example, the ability to fully view or interact with the electronic media device while still inside the packaging is severely limited in most packaging designs. Although unobtrusive packaging designs have been developed, these designs typically do not allow electronic media devices to be interacted with while inside the packaging."

In addition, most packages do not include some sort of external power source to make sure the device can be operational for the user to see and use.

Physically connecting a power supply to each package in a store could be a difficult task, and so one of Apple's proposed solutions is to use an RF power transmitter. The packaging itself could act as a receiver, and would provide power to a device like an iPhone or iPad.

The use of packaging to receive the wireless power would also negate the need for the device itself to be able to recharge wirelessly. This would avoid the need to increase the size of the device to add such technology.




The new packaging method with an external power supply would also allow Apple to conduct functionality like firmware or software upgrades directly in the store, while the product is still sealed.

The application, made public this week by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, was first filed in December of 2011. It is credited to Michael Rosenblatt, a former new technologies manager at Apple, where his team filed 42 patent applications related to the iPhone and iPod, and saw 70 percent of their innovations adopted into products over a two-year span.

[ View article on AppleInsider ]
post #2 of 38
I predicted on AI years ago Apple would get into 'Wi-Tricity' one day ... this is the beginning ...

One day all Apple devices will charge wirelessly when within range of some central device, maybe the Airport Extreme?
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post #3 of 38
I remember an article very much like this one a few years ago. Or perhaps that was the same idea without the wireless part? BTW how the heck does wireless electricity work? Apparently Arthur C. Clarke's dictum that "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic" holds true again.
post #4 of 38
It's a horrible idea.

We waste far too much energy in this country already. I don't care if your concern is global warming, balance of trade, or physical security of our troops in oil-producing regions, reducing our energy usage (and especially getting rid of pure wasted energy) is a good thing.

This type of charging is inefficient and wastes a great deal of energy. I'm not going to do it again, but a while back, I estimated that if all Apple portable products were switched to wireless charging, it would waste enough energy to require a brand new, full scale (Gigawatt level) power plant.
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post #5 of 38
given the fact that most apple items fly off the shelf daily I don't see an issue with this, If you had a product like the Zune or BB Playbook then yes this would be a waste,
post #6 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by malax View Post

I remember an article very much like this one a few years ago. Or perhaps that was the same idea without the wireless part? BTW how the heck does wireless electricity work? Apparently Arthur C. Clarke's dictum that "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic" holds true again.

Not at all. It's not even that advanced of a technology.

Think of a transformer. You have one AC coil wrapped around a metal core. This converts the electricity into magnetism. Now, you wrap another coil around the metal core. Magnetism is converted back to electricity and you get a current in the second coil. The same thing works without the metal core, albeit at lower efficiency.

Or, think of it this way. You have radio stations all over the place. They are emitting radio waves into the air from their antenna. That is, an electric current is fed to the antenna and radiation is emitted. Your antenna receives the radio waves and converts them to electrical currents (although very weak ones).

In fact, there's a big scam on some of the energy efficiency forums. Nikolai Tesla theorized that one could build a receiver which would convert the earth's magnetic fields to electricity. This does, in fact, work. The problem is that it generates only a few mW of power and is not practical. Even with all the different radio signals around us, there's just not enough energy to do anything useful, but you still see people trying to sell you a Tesla generator to power your house. The system being proposed here is different because it has its own magnetic field generator and receiver in close proximity.

There's absolutely nothing difficult or complicated about the process. It's just not very efficient.
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post #7 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

It's a horrible idea.

We waste far too much energy in this country already. I don't care if your concern is global warming, balance of trade, or physical security of our troops in oil-producing regions, reducing our energy usage (and especially getting rid of pure wasted energy) is a good thing.

This type of charging is inefficient and wastes a great deal of energy. I'm not going to do it again, but a while back, I estimated that if all Apple portable products were switched to wireless charging, it would waste enough energy to require a brand new, full scale (Gigawatt level) power plant.

Completely agree.

I'll also add I'd prefer to not have the battery already trickle charging away before I even buy it.
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post #8 of 38
I think we probably bombarded with enough energy waves already I doubt this is a healthy solution to powering up a device.
post #9 of 38
One of these days all the remaining OEMs will catch up with where Palm was 3 years ago.

I want to use my touchstone again.

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post #10 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

It's a horrible idea.

We waste far too much energy in this country already. I don't care if your concern is global warming, balance of trade, or physical security of our troops in oil-producing regions, reducing our energy usage (and especially getting rid of pure wasted energy) is a good thing.

This type of charging is inefficient and wastes a great deal of energy. I'm not going to do it again, but a while back, I estimated that if all Apple portable products were switched to wireless charging, it would waste enough energy to require a brand new, full scale (Gigawatt level) power plant.

I suspect we will in the 21st Century, mange to improve on Tesla's idea and if anyone can, Apple can.
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post #11 of 38
This was reported a year or more ago about what Apple was working on. Sounds like it now has been awarded a patent on it.

This is probably for now aimed at product pack up and in stores ready to ship. If a new software version comes out, either they need to open them all up and program them or wait for the user to do that after they buy it and open it up. I can see other benefits such as connector-less charging for consumers. It is less efficient than direct connect but can have some benefits.
post #12 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

It's a horrible idea.

We waste far too much energy in this country already. I don't care if your concern is global warming, balance of trade, or physical security of our troops in oil-producing regions, reducing our energy usage (and especially getting rid of pure wasted energy) is a good thing.

This type of charging is inefficient and wastes a great deal of energy. I'm not going to do it again, but a while back, I estimated that if all Apple portable products were switched to wireless charging, it would waste enough energy to require a brand new, full scale (Gigawatt level) power plant.

Resonant magnetic coupling can exceed 95% efficiency and what's more the system could power down when no device is being charged which compared with the number of charging units folks leave in 24/7 could save power. What is the efficiency of a traditional charging system? I can heat a room with the energy all my chargers create.

I'm not sure why the almost hysterical response this subject seems to create is so prevalent amongst such an informed community as AI.
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post #13 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

Resonant magnetic coupling can exceed 95% efficiency and what's more the system could power down when no device is being charged which compared with the number of charging units folks leave in 24/7 could save power. What is the efficiency of a traditional charging system? I can heat a room with the energy all my chargers create.

I'm not sure why the almost hysterical response this subject seems to create is so prevalent amongst such an informed community as AI.

While theoretical efficiencies of 95% are possible, in the real world, it's more like 40% - with some people hoping for 50-60%:
http://www.electronista.com/articles...zone.charging/

And that even assumes that the base and the device are essentially in contact. If the distance is more than a few mm, the efficiency drops even further.

Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

I suspect we will in the 21st Century, mange to improve on Tesla's idea and if anyone can, Apple can.

Please let me know when you invent your perpetual motion machine.

The problem with using Tesla generators for energy has nothing to do with technology or efficiency. The fact is that the amount of energy available is too low. Even with 100% efficiency, you only get a few mW of energy - no matter how good your technology is.
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post #14 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

It's a horrible idea.

We waste far too much energy in this country already. I don't care if your concern is global warming, balance of trade, or physical security of our troops in oil-producing regions, reducing our energy usage (and especially getting rid of pure wasted energy) is a good thing.

This type of charging is inefficient and wastes a great deal of energy. I'm not going to do it again, but a while back, I estimated that if all Apple portable products were switched to wireless charging, it would waste enough energy to require a brand new, full scale (Gigawatt level) power plant.

Since all the facts are not present your opinion is based on fear and presumption. You don't know for sure that this won't be a more efficient method of charging devices. Until the technology has been revealed and tested there's really no need to debunk it.
post #15 of 38
This technology can be applied to many situations outside the Apple Store.

Imagine your package being charged wirelessly while you pee or poop.
post #16 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

It's a horrible idea.

We waste far too much energy in this country already. I don't care if your concern is global warming, balance of trade, or physical security of our troops in oil-producing regions, reducing our energy usage (and especially getting rid of pure wasted energy) is a good thing.

Totally, totally agree.
post #17 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

While theoretical efficiencies of 95% are possible, in the real world, it's more like 40% - with some people hoping for 50-60%:
http://www.electronista.com/articles...zone.charging/

And that even assumes that the base and the device are essentially in contact. If the distance is more than a few mm, the efficiency drops even further.



Please let me know when you invent your perpetual motion machine.

The problem with using Tesla generators for energy has nothing to do with technology or efficiency. The fact is that the amount of energy available is too low. Even with 100% efficiency, you only get a few mW of energy - no matter how good your technology is.

I always had you pegged as a smart person! Since when did I call into doubt the laws of thermodynamics? I simply stated that if resonant magnetic coupling can reach or exceed 95% efficiency at close proximity it simply becomes a viable and energy efficient method of moving energy from a to b ... sending power along wires that heat up is not necessarily the method we will use for eternity.

I see your link above is circa 2009!

But don't believe me, how about MIT?
http://www.technologyreview.com/tr50/2012/

For interesting links here (real world applications)

http://www.witricity.com/pages/news.html
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post #18 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

It's a horrible idea.

We waste far too much energy in this country already. I don't care if your concern is global warming, balance of trade, or physical security of our troops in oil-producing regions, reducing our energy usage (and especially getting rid of pure wasted energy) is a good thing.

This type of charging is inefficient and wastes a great deal of energy. I'm not going to do it again, but a while back, I estimated that if all Apple portable products were switched to wireless charging, it would waste enough energy to require a brand new, full scale (Gigawatt level) power plant.

Households only use a quarter of all energy (most is used by transport and industry), and appliances only use a third of that (most energy in the homes goes for heating/cooling). So if you decrease the efficiency of some of these house appliances using up to 8% of total energy (not all of them will use resonant inductive charging) from 95 to 70-80%, you only increase energy consumption by less than 2%, more like 0.2-0.5%.

I agree that any increase in energy spending should be avoided; but then I'm also sure that these fractions of a percent can be compensated for by the increased durability of universal wireless chargers.

More on topic, the idea to put the inductive power circuitry in the packaging of electronics so that they can be powered while on the shelf is sheer idiocy and whoever came up with it should be shot in the head.
post #19 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

I'm not sure why the almost hysterical response this subject seems to create is so prevalent amongst such an informed community as AI.

Hysterical responses amongst the regulars here is what makes this site great. Why are you complaining?

Take the botnet article for example. Many of the responses just plain denied the validity of the research, for a variety of reasons, some valid, mostly silly. Many were the equivalent of "I can't heeeaaarrrrr you".

Many were totally uninformed - one intimated that the facts could not be true because an exact number was given for Cupertino. Seemingly, the poster had no idea of how the research was conducted, nor how the trojan even worked.

The bottom line is that there are many uninformed members of this community, and the regulars are often hysterical at seemingly innocuous news.
post #20 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

It's a horrible idea.

We waste far too much energy in this country already. I don't care if your concern is global warming, balance of trade, or physical security of our troops in oil-producing regions, reducing our energy usage (and especially getting rid of pure wasted energy) is a good thing.

This type of charging is inefficient and wastes a great deal of energy. I'm not going to do it again, but a while back, I estimated that if all Apple portable products were switched to wireless charging, it would waste enough energy to require a brand new, full scale (Gigawatt level) power plant.

The power is generated by the repetitive motions of Foxconn workers? Apple Stpre employees wear special socks sp they can generate power while they work?

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post #21 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by DrDoppio View Post


More on topic, the idea to put the inductive power circuitry in the packaging of electronics so that they can be powered while on the shelf is sheer idiocy and whoever came up with it should be shot in the head.

The patent application only appears to describe adding conductive pathways and connectors to packaging, with the possibility of a simple antenna for inductive coupling, which would be a fairly trivial addition. I don't think they are planning active circuitry.
post #22 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

The power is generated by the repetitive motions of Foxconn workers? Apple Stpre employees wear special socks sp they can generate power while they work?

Joking appart, did you see in the UK they are tiling a Mall near the olympic stadium with floor tiles that generate power due to pressure. They estimate the foot traffic during the olympics will power the entire facility's lighting. Amazing what you can learn listening to Science Friday!
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post #23 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by DrDoppio View Post

Households only use a quarter of all energy (most is used by transport and industry), and appliances only use a third of that (most energy in the homes goes for heating/cooling). So if you decrease the efficiency of some of these house appliances using up to 8% of total energy (not all of them will use resonant inductive charging) from 95 to 70-80%, you only increase energy consumption by less than 2%, more like 0.2-0.5%.

Yes, it's possible to make it insignificant if you look only at percentages of the entire U.S. energy usage.

But, as I pointed out before, if this were widely used, it would take one full-scale power plant just to make up for the waste. Do you really see the need to add another power plant (at the cost of many millions of dollars - or billions if it's nuclear) as well as the cost of importing all that fuel and the resultant pollution just so that you don't have to plug in your phone?

I guess I just don't see how "place it on the charger in just the right position" saves enough time compared to "plug in the cord that is lying on my nightstand".
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post #24 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by muppetry View Post

The patent application only appears to describe adding conductive pathways and connectors to packaging, with the possibility of a simple antenna for inductive coupling, which would be a fairly trivial addition. I don't think they are planning active circuitry.

It's still a waste of materials and a potential waste of energy for a pointless marketing gimmick.
post #25 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

Yes, it's possible to make it insignificant if you look only at percentages of the entire U.S. energy usage.

But, as I pointed out before, if this were widely used, it would take one full-scale power plant just to make up for the waste. Do you really see the need to add another power plant (at the cost of many millions of dollars - or billions if it's nuclear) as well as the cost of importing all that fuel and the resultant pollution just so that you don't have to plug in your phone?

I guess I just don't see how "place it on the charger in just the right position" saves enough time compared to "plug in the cord that is lying on my nightstand".

I really think that the savings from losing all the wires and proprietary connectors would outweigh the energy losses.
post #26 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

Joking appart, did you see in the UK they are tiling a Mall near the olympic stadium with floor tiles that generate power due to pressure. They estimate the foot traffic during the olympics will power the entire facility's lighting. Amazing what you can learn listening to Science Friday!

That's pretty cool but I wonder if it's cost prohibitive except for non-novelty/prrof-of-concept uses, how much traffic there has to be to make it feasible light the facility, and how it feels to walk on the floor.

PS: What unit of measurement do they use? It's just th number of people, but the number of footfalls they make. And then you have to consider the pressure being applied.

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post #27 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

Yes, it's possible to make it insignificant if you look only at percentages of the entire U.S. energy usage.

But, as I pointed out before, if this were widely used, it would take one full-scale power plant just to make up for the waste. Do you really see the need to add another power plant (at the cost of many millions of dollars - or billions if it's nuclear) as well as the cost of importing all that fuel and the resultant pollution just so that you don't have to plug in your phone?

I guess I just don't see how "place it on the charger in just the right position" saves enough time compared to "plug in the cord that is lying on my nightstand".

The new technologies coming that will take advantage of wi-tricity will be as equally radically different. Your new power plant requirement theory is assuming we simply try to use the same old with the new. That would be like folks listening to Karl Benz in the 1880's assuming he was proposing a gasoline engine be fitted to existing horse drawn carriages and leaving off the horses.

Check out this light from Osram ... http://www.witricity.com/pdfs/Osram.pdf

Perhaps we should invite some of the MIT physicists to this discussion to talk to our resident expert physicists that claim this is impossible. After all this was MIT physicists that developed this latest and dramatically different approach from Tesla's. I don't believe MIT is a hot bed for perpetual motion machine development ... but I could be wrong
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post #28 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

That's pretty cool but I wonder if it's cost prohibitive except for non-novelty/prrof-of-concept uses, how much traffic there has to be to make it feasible light the facility, and how it feels to walk on the floor.

PS: What unit of measurement do they use? It's just th number of people, but the number of footfalls they make. And then you have to consider the pressure being applied.

I am trying to find the article relating to the broadcast. From what I recall the break through in this, it has been tried before, was the ability to store and average out the kinetic energy for distribution as electricty. This is I suspect is a proof of concept installation as it is a British invention and of course a major British event. I don't think it feels any diffent to walk on than a typical vinyl tile. If I find anything I will edit the link in here.

Edit: They are different and may feel different but they seem to be made so people want to walk on them ... very clever! I just hope no one trips and sues ... Oh wait ... this is England not the USA

Can't find the article but here is the company web site behind this technolo. http://www.pavegen.com/
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post #29 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

The new technologies coming that will take advantage of wi-tricity will be as equally radically different. Your new power plant requirement theory is assuming we simply try to use the same old with the new.

Not at all. I simply assumed something like a 10% efficiency loss. And since even the best commercially available products are only 50-60% efficient, that seems pretty generous. It's not even theoretically possible to have wireless charging without some losses -and since all the other components are the same, there will always be some losses.
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post #30 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

Not at all. I simply assumed something like a 10% efficiency loss. And since even the best commercially available products are only 50-60% efficient, that seems pretty generous. It's not even theoretically possible to have wireless charging without some losses -and since all the other components are the same, there will always be some losses.

Of course there will always be loss however new technologies such as LED lights (and who knows what other break throughs are coming), are so much more efficient themselves. Imagine the cost saving in building a home in the future that requires very few wires. The materials we use to create the wired world themselves require an enormous amount of power to mine, manufacture, distribute and install.

In the end we can differ in our opinions but I am totally of the belief we will in the near future see a time when many things we currently plug in won't be ... from lights to equipment and we will walk into an area and our Apple devices will simply be charging .... and it won't require the need of a new power station. It will in fact, due to the acceleration of new technologies, bring about a lowering of energy usage.
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post #31 of 38
This is a really great idea (seriously). Apple could add a demo mode to iOS that the devices go into when factory reset. When they reach at least 80% charge, the screen would turn on and start displaying images and movies. This is like the attract mode in old video arcade games. They could even use the light sensor so that only the devices on the front row would turn on and only when the lights in the store are on. That would save energy. I really like this idea. I do hope that the wireless charging can be built into the devices themselves rather than just the packaging. Eventually the packaging could have its own screen, mini-CPU and OLED screen. Then the green people will come out of the woodwork to whine about waste.
post #32 of 38
Because we don't have enough cancer
We need to be bombarded by more radiation
post #33 of 38
A wonderful progression of packaging design!
post #34 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider

The use of packaging to receive the wireless power would also negate the need for the device itself to be able to recharge wirelessly.

Darn.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider

This would avoid the need to increase the size of the device to add such technology.

Yay.

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post #35 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by doug0613 View Post

Because we don't have enough cancer
We need to be bombarded by more radiation

JFYI from http://www.witricity.com/pages/benefits.html

Non-Radiative Energy Transfer is Safe for People and Animals
WiTricitys technology is a non-radiative mode of energy transfer, relying instead on the magnetic near field. Magnetic fields interact very weakly with biological organismspeople and animalsand are scientifically regarded to be safe. Professor Sir John Pendry of Imperial College London, a world renowned physicist, explains: The body really responds strongly to electric fields, which is why you can cook a chicken in a microwave. But it doesn't respond to magnetic fields. As far as we know the body has almost zero response to magnetic fields in terms of the amount of power it absorbs." Evidence of the safety of magnetic fields is illustrated by the widespread acceptance and safety of household magnetic induction cooktops.

Through proprietary design of the WiTricity source, electric fields are almost completely contained within the source. This design results in levels of electric and magnetic fields which fall well within regulatory guidelines. Thus WiTricity technology doesnt give rise to radio frequency emissions that interfere with other electronic devices, and is not a source of electric and magnetic field levels that pose a risk to people or animals.

Limits for human exposure to magnetic fields are set by regulatory bodies such as the FCC, ICNIRP, and are based on broad scientific and medical consensus. WiTricity technology is being developed to be fully compliant with applicable regulations regarding magnetic fields and electromagnetic radiation.
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Been using Apple since Apple ][ - Long on AAPL so biased
nMac Pro 6 Core, MacBookPro i7, MacBookPro i5, iPhones 5 and 5s, iPad Air, 2013 Mac mini, SE30, IIFx, Towers; G4 & G3.
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post #36 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by GrangerFX View Post

This is a really great idea (seriously). Apple could add a demo mode to iOS that the devices go into when factory reset. When they reach at least 80% charge, the screen would turn on and start displaying images and movies. This is like the attract mode in old video arcade games.

Bingo. The idea is certainly interesting. Though they'd have to convince me why I should be okay with paying full price for a used device.

Quote:
Originally Posted by doug0613 View Post

Because we don't have enough cancer
We need to be bombarded by more radiation

It took THIS long for the tin foil hat brigade to show up?

“The only thing more insecure than Android is its userbase.” – Can’t Remember

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“The only thing more insecure than Android is its userbase.” – Can’t Remember

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post #37 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by kerryb View Post

I think we probably bombarded with enough energy waves already I doubt this is a healthy solution to powering up a device.

In our alarmist area, there're already folks who favor outlawing cell phone use in public places, not to speak of public Wi-Fi hotspots (guess!). The spectre of radiation from wireless power will yield calls for regulations governing not only public use but also how close to a residence (especially apartment or tightly packed urban dwelling) this may be done. This place really likes its Mommy laws.
post #38 of 38
Let's cover the US with inefficient wind turbines to run all the inefficient wireless chargers.

Utopia!
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