Say goodbye to pesky wires. Researchers at the University of Washington have recently come up with a way to use existing WiFi systems to charge your gadgets – as far as nine metres away!
Called Power over WiFi, or PoWiFi, the system makes use of already-existing routers by harvesting their radio frequency power and converting it into DC power.
In one experiment, a camera connected to a super capacitor was able to take a photo every 35 minutes thanks to a router located 17 feet away. Other devices included in their tests included temperature sensors, rechargeable batteries, and a small fitness tracker.
What’s even cooler is that using its charging capabilities won’t affect your internet connection at all. Companies like Energous are planning to launch a similar product later this year, but the caveat is that it doesn’t work with existing hardware and you’d also lose data in the process.
To prove that PoWiFi won’t give you connection problems, the researchers installed their routers in six Seattle homes and asked the residents to go online. Four of six respondents said they saw no difference, while one claimed their internet improved.
The UW team has already formed a startup that would improve the system’s kinks, such as its minuscule one-watt power output (a smartphone charger has a five-watt output). They hope that by the time the product hits the market, it could power more than low energy devices.
“The work we’ve published, you could think of it as the first proof of concept,” said Vamsi Talla, a researcher in the project. “But it’s by no means the optimal solution. We’re actively working to make it better.”