Disney scientists design high-tech room that charges mobile devices wirelessly

While talk of Apple developing wireless technology that will charge your iPhone as it sits in your pocket is merely rumor at this stage, Disney Research has just unveiled the real deal in the form of an entire room capable of charging every compatible gadget that happens to be inside it.

As the team points out, current solutions are limited to resting a mobile device on a charging pad and so fail to provide the physical freedom for the kind of charging we’d all like to have.

“What we really want is a three-dimensional charging experience where you walk into your living room or office and your cell phone is charged simply by walking in,” said Alanson Sample, one of the researchers who worked on the system.

Its ubiquitous wireless power delivery can, in the team’s own words, “enable purpose-built structures, such as cabinets, rooms, and warehouses, to generate quasistatic magnetic fields that safely deliver kilowatts of power to mobile receivers contained nearly anywhere within.”

The team’s approach, laid out in detail here, enables the delivery of 1,900 watts of energy throughout the room, with an efficiency of 40 to 95 percent depending on the location of the chargeable device.

The main hitch, however, is that the actual room in which the technology is housed is currently an integral part of the design. In other words, in the tech’s current form, you’d have to build a room according to a specific design to make it work.

So the walls, floor, and ceiling comprise aluminum panels, while in the center you’ll find a floor-to-ceiling copper pipe that resembles an exercise pole.

Inside the pipe, about halfway down, are 15 capacitors that set the electromagentic frequency of the structure and confine the electric fields. The setup also uses a signal generator, a power amplifier, and a drive coil that couples power to the room.

“The current travels through the pole, ceiling, walls, and floor, which generates a magnetic field, circulating around the pole. By coupling a coil receiver to the magnetic field, power can be provided nearly anywhere in the room,” the team explains in the video above, adding that the “inclusion of doors, windows, and furniture does not significantly impact power transfer.”

But would such a system adversely affect human health? Disney Research’s Matt Chabalko said its technology meets federal safety guidelines, which means “it’s completely safe for people to occupy the space for any amount of time.”

The technology is currently a proof-of-concept, so there’s no telling when we might see Disney’s technology taken to the next level. However, the team is currently working to refine the system with the aim of doing away with specially made rooms and improving its efficiency.

With electrical pioneer Nikola Tesla achieving groundbreaking work in the field of wireless power more than 100 years ago, progress has seemingly been slow. That’s why Disney Research hopes it can be the one to finally deliver free-roaming wireless charging to the masses.

Cars

Porsche’s all-electric Taycan sedan will cost less than a Panamera

Porsche's Mission E concept won't change much as it transitions to a production model named Taycan that's scheduled to arrive in 2019. That means the sedan will keep the sleek design and its 800-volt charging system.
Mobile

Here are our favorite wireless phone chargers for Android devices and iPhones

We checked out the best wireless phone chargers to make tangles and uncooperative ports a thing of the past. Whether you have an iPhone or Android, find out which wireless charging pads are worth buying, and how their features compare.
Cars

Double your charging speed with Nomad’s Tesla Model 3 wireless charger

Nomad's wireless charger for the Tesla Model 3 fits the EV's charging dock exactly. If you plug both of the Nomad's into the Model 3's two front USB ports you can charge two smartphones quickly or one phone twice as fast.
Mobile

Got gadgets galore? Keep them charged up with the 10 best USB-C cables

If you weren't already aware, USB-C is quickly becoming mainstream. That's why we've rounded up some of the better USB-C cables on the market, whether you're looking to charge or sync your smartphone.
Emerging Tech

From flying for fun to pro filmmaking, these are the best drones you can buy

In just the past few years, drones have transformed from a geeky hobbyist affair to a full-on cultural phenomenon. Here's a no-nonsense rundown of the best drones you can buy right now, no matter what kind of flying you plan to do.
Emerging Tech

Healthy mice born from two genetic mothers using stem cells, gene editing

Healthy mice have been born from two genetics mothers and later went on to bear healthy offspring of their own, according to a recent paper published by researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Emerging Tech

Light-swallowing room promises Call of Duty fans the blackest of ops

What's it like to be in a room fully painted with the world's darkest material, Vantablack? The makers of one of the year's top video games teamed up with Vantablack scientists to find out.
Emerging Tech

Japanese scientists are chewing over an ‘electric gum’ that never loses flavor

Researchers at Japan's Meiji University may have found the secret to unlimited chewing gum -- and it just involves zapping your tongue with electricity. Here's what makes it all work.
Smart Home

Vector, the engaging Alexa-like robot, is ready to roam around your home

Anyone who has ever watched Short Circuit or WALL-E has surely dreamed about having a robot buddy come live with them. Finally, that dream is now a reality. It's name is Vector, and it's available now.
Emerging Tech

Ekster 3.0 lets you ask, ‘Alexa, where did I leave my wallet?’

Ekster's newest smart wallet is its best yet. It's slimmer than ever, boasts a neat card-dispensing mechanism, and will even let you know where it is, thanks to smart speaker integration.
Emerging Tech

Johns Hopkins’ lab-grown human retina could lead to big insights

Scientists from Johns Hopkins University have successfully grown human retina tissue from scratch in a lab. The work could help with the development of new therapeutics related to eye diseases.
Wearables

Skydio’s self-flying drone now has an Apple Watch app for flight prep

Skydio's clever R1 autonomous drone now has its own Apple Watch app, making flight preparations simpler than ever. The $2,000 flying machine is now also selling at its first retail outlet — Apple Stores in North America.
Emerging Tech

Are e-cigarettes safe? Here’s what the most recent science says

Ecigarettes are widely regarded and advertised as a healthier alternative to cigarettes for people who are trying to kick the smoking habit. How safe are these cigarette alternatives? We went deep into the recent scientific literature to…
Emerging Tech

Scientists created a condom that self-lubricates during sex. You’re welcome

Researchers from Boston University have invented a special coating for condoms which make them respond to bodily fluids by becoming more slippery. Here's how their new breakthrough works.