Back in 1902, Nikola Tesla built a 187 feet high tower on Long Island New York. Tesla’s plan was for

Back in 1902, Nikola Tesla built a 187 feet high tower on Long Island New York. Tesla’s plan was for this tower to transmit information and ultimately power around the world. A hundred years after his tower project was shut down due to lack of funds, this very technology could be coming to an electronics store near you.


We have already utilized many of Tesla’s innovative ideas to move information in a variety of ways starting with radios a hundred years ago and ultimately moving on to the smartphones we use today. Coming within the next year, Tesla’s other theory to transmit power wirelessly is expected to become commercially viable.

Imagine a world where we can carry around our laptops and smartphones without ever needing cords and outlets to “juice” them up. This technology has been slowly developed, starting with the “power mats” you can set you cell phone on, to a technology called resonant energy transfer or “magnetic resonance” developed by a professor at MIT. This transfer process inspired the company WiTricity, which has been honing their projects over the past 8 years. This technology can currently be used to transfer power over the range of roughly 1 to 2 meters wirelessly.

But this has simply been the groundwork laid out for future pioneers. There are 2 newer companies that are going back to Tesla’s original idea, which was to transmit power through radio waves. A third company named Ubeam is developing the technology to move energy through sound waves with the use of ultrasound transmitters.

The problems incurred with transmitting over radio waves is much like microwaves. Too much power at once and you cook whatever is in the way. The company Energous claims to have solved the issue due to advanced technology in microchips. A typical cell phone charges rather quickly utilizing roughly 5 watts of energy from your wall outlet. Energous plans on beaming 2 watts of power to antennas in newly designed phones to charge over a couple hours.

This technology may seem inefficient at first, but if every time you walk into your home or your office, and your phone automatically starts to charge, we will rarely find ourselves with dead cell phones due to the amount of time we spend in each of those places. Energous believes they will be ready to market commercially within the next 18 months. What is coming is a plethora of electronics that can be charged without ever plugging into a wall.


This technologies application goes far beyond charging our cell phones, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Imagine a world that starts utilizing these sensors to have a “smart” everything. These devices could have sensors that detects heat, light and motion. We could have moveable cameras, controls and devices that can be moved and even upgraded without ever having to plug into a power source. We are talking about light switches that can be placed anywhere in a room. Moving your thermostat to the most convenient place based on your houses floorplan. The possibilities will become endless.

The company Ubeam, utilizing the previous mentioned ultrasound transmitters, plans to unveil technology that will travel much greater distances than those developed by Energous. They plan to rollout their product within the next 12 months. This could charge your refrigerator or stove wirelessly from your living room.

Some skeptics feel that based on the physics involved, Ubeam may not be able to deliver what it is promising. In the case of Energous, radio waves are already utilized for so many things such as microwaves and Wi-Fi routers. Some believe this would limit where and how the wireless power could be used. However, if these companies have indeed figured out a way around the physics, the applications are unlimited.

Now this does mean that electrical wiring will become completely obsolete to the point that new buildings will no longer have wiring placed in their walls. But because of these “Power Pioneers” ambient power could soon play a vital role in how we work and play in our everyday lives.


Matthew Helland
Senior Vice President –NAEA




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