Now here's an interesting story from way out of left field: US researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have successfully managed to transfer electricity to devices without the use of cables!
Using a setup which consisted of two 60cm diameter copper coils with a transmitter and two metres away a receiver fitted to a light bulb, the boffins made the bulb light up when the transmitter was switched on, despite the lack of a physical connection.
The system works by exploiting 'resonance coupling', meaning once the transmitter and receiver are aligned they can exchange energy strongly without any fallout on surrounding objects. The team (above) gives an example using wine glasses:
Imagine a room with 100 identical wine glasses, each filled with wine up to a different level, so they all have different resonant frequencies. If an opera singer sings a sufficiently loud single note inside the room, a glass of the corresponding frequency might accumulate sufficient energy to even explode, while not influencing the other glasses.
So as long as the transmitter and receiver are set to individual, matching frequencies no worries.
Consequently, the big question Just what the heck happens if you place something/yourself between the transmitter and the receiver? is easy: nothing. Despite placing wood, metal and electronic devices between the transmitter and the receiver the bulb still glowed and the process uses low frequency (30m long) electromagnetic waves which are harmless to humans (yes and your cat/dog/tiger).
The MIT team reported the efficiency of their energy transfer was roughly 40 per cent, but any energy not picked up by the receiver would be re-absorbed by the transmitter. They also anticipate the process can be adapted for devices such as laptops and mobile phones, meaning - if fitted with a receiver - they will automatically charge when in the vicinity of a transmitter.
Currently MIT says the process is limited to around the 2m range with which it conducted its tests but I have no doubt this could be expanded in future.
Sadly I haven't absorbed this last point (and, I suspect, you haven't either) because I no longer care about the details. In fact, I don't even care that a commercial application date hasn't been discussed. I just know this technology is out there and I want it in my devices NOW NOW NOW.
So what if I wake up one morning with an extra finger on my forehead? I'm sure it'll come in useful for something…