Say Goodbye to Powerstrips As You Know Them

Powercast, a new Pennsylvania-based tech company, plans to remove wireless power strips to power a wide variety of low-voltage devices. Say goodbye to plugging in cell phones, PDAs and MP3 players for recharging. Even pacemakers won't have to be surgically replaced anymore, but simply recharged wirelessly.

The key to Powercast's wireless power strip is radio waves. Just like the waves that are used for transmitting sounds from radio stations and cell phone conversations, RF (radio frequency) waves can transmit energy from power source to application through the air.

Small chips on both the transmitter and receiver transmit the RF waves, which the company says are reliable and FCC-approved. The chips are the size of a dime, and cost about $5 each to make.

The power strip just plugs into a wall outlet, and works at distance of up to three feet. The technology can be used to charge or power pretty much anything that uses up to 4.2-volt batteries. It can even replace batteries, such as in game controllers and hearing aids.

Powercast is partnering with Phillips, and already has agreements with more than 100 companies to start imbedding the technology in a variety of applications. Powercast CEO John Shearer plans to begin selling the first products later this year.

The future may provide even more wireless potential for larger applications, such as laptops and PCs. Although laptops currently require more than 10 times the wattage of the Powercast power strip, computers' power requirements are decreasing due to more energy efficient components. The company hopes that in five years, computers may run wirelessly, as well.

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Lisa Zyga
Science Blogger