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Scientists at Disney Research converted an entire room into a wireless charger.

Credit: Disney Research

When you need to charge your electronic devices on the go, it can be a hassle trying to find somewhere to plug in. And though some devices can already be charged without wires, researchers at The Walt Disney Company have recently supersized the technology by building a wireless "charging room."

Scientists at a branch of The Walt Disney Company called Disney Research have converted an entire room into a wireless charger that can boost the batteries of 10 objects at one time, according to the study. The researchers said they were inspired by inventor Nikola Tesla, who created the first system to wirelessly transmit electricity — the Tesla coil.

Tesla believed there could be a global network of wireless electricity that would use an electromagnetic wave that reverberated between the ionosphere (a layer of the Earth's atmosphere filled with ions and free electrons) and the ground, study co-author Alanson Sample, an associate lab director and principal research scientist at Disney Research, explained in a video. While Tesla's vision didn't come to fruition, Sample and his colleagues were inspired to investigate how wireless charging could be set up in large spaces. [Top 10 Inventions that Changed the World]

"What we really want is a three-dimensional charging experience, where you walk into your living room or office and your cellphone is charged simply by walking in," Sample said in the video. "We have a metalized room, and we're going to use standing electromagnetic waves that reverberate all around this room, providing wireless power to any devices inside."

Known as quasistatic cavity resonance (QSCR), the wireless charging technology uses electromagnetic fields generated by electrical currents. Disney Research's room is outfitted with aluminum-paneled walls and a centrally located copper pole that houses 15 capacitors (which store electrical energy, as batteries do). As the capacitors generate electrical currents, they travel through the ceiling, walls and floor, and then back through the pole. These electrical currents create the electromagnetic fields that circulate around the pole and wirelessly charge devices in the room, the researchers said.

Furniture and other objects can still decorate the room without interfering with the currents, according to the researchers, because magnetic fields don't react strongly with these commonplace objects. It's also safe for humans to occupy the space for any amount of time, because the researchers' simulations met federal safety regulations while still transmitting 1.9 kilowatts of power — enough to charge cellphones, laptops, lamps and other small electronic devices, according to the study.

"In this work, we're demonstrating room-scale wireless power, but there's no reason we couldn't shrink this down to the size of a toy box or charging chest, or scale up to a warehouse or a large building," Sample said.

The new research is detailed in a study published online Feb. 15 in the journal PLOS ONE.

Source: This article was published livescience.com By Kacey Deamer

Categorized in Science & Tech

The last couple months have seen a welcome change in the wireless industry. Instead of massively confusing bills and data caps, we’ve had prices slashed across the board and unlimited data plans for all. But thanks to the unending drive for consolidation and profits, the good times aren’t going to last.

During the recent 600MHz spectrum auction, which ran from the end of 2016 all the way to last week, the government imposed a “quiet rule” on carriers. They couldn’t talk about the auction, their plans with any spectrum, and they couldn’t talk with anyone about merging. But now that quiet time is over, it’s just a matter of time until some blockbuster deals happen.

Rumors suggest that T-Mobile, Sprint, and Dish are all in talks for partnerships, acquisitions, or mergers. For Sprint, it’s a fight for survival: recent financial results have been dire, and since the company didn’t buy any new spectrum in the FCC’s auction, the network won’t see substantial improvements in the near future. SoftBank, the Japanese company that owns Sprint, has been looking for a chance to unload Sprint for years.

The most-talked-about target is Deutsche Telekom, the majority owner of T-Mobile. The idea would be to merge T-Mobile and Sprint, the third-largest and fourth-largest networks in America, to form one super-network.

Although that might lead to slightly improved coverage, it would be terrible for consumers in general. The fight between T-Mobile and Sprint for customers has led to lower prices, the ending of multi-year-contracts, and a host of other consumer-friendly moves in recent years. Losing Sprint, which offers the cheapest contracts of any of the big networks, would mean losing the one company that applies downwards pressure to prices.

The alternatives aren’t much better. One of the few other companies with the money and desire to build out a US-wide cell network could be Amazon. Owning a wireless network would give Amazon direct control over delivering some of its services, like Prime Video, straight to consumers without having to go through an existing internet service provider. A wireless network could also be invaluable in the future for Amazon’s drone delivery service, which would need some kind of national command-and-control network.

It’s not just T-Mobile and Sprint that are rumored in merger deals, either. Dish Network, the satellite TV provider that also owns Sling TV, bought up $6 billion of spectrum at the FCC’s recent auction, and now sits on one of the largest spectrum holdings in the US. It’s possible that it could be bought out by a company like Comcast to build out a brand-new wireless network, or merge with an existing wireless network for further expansion. Any of those options would involve losing the country’s biggest independent TV provider to a major cable company, which would be more bad news for consumers.

Analyst Tim Farrar sees a combination of all these scenarios being the logical option: a three-way deal between T-Mobile, Amazon and Dish to build out a new network, using T-Mobile’s new spectrum and Dish’s spectrum holdings. Using Amazon’s capital, they could quickly build out a fast and wide-reaching network with brand-new technology, which could be used by T-Mobile for cell service, by Dish for internet TV, and by Amazon for world domination/any of Jeff Bezos’s pet projects.

The bottom line is that the status quo isn’t here to stay. Between Sprint’s financial woes, T-Mobile’s desire to build a giant new network at speed, and Dish’s unused spectrum, it seems that a deal is likely. The only questions are when, and how badly it will affect wireless customers.

Author: Chris Mills
Source: bgr.com

Categorized in Science & Tech

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