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Sony Reveals Efficient Wireless Power Technology

Gordon Kelly


Sony Reveals Efficient Wireless Power Technology

The emergence of WiFi was a beautiful thing, but the cable spaghetti that exists behind our PCs and TVs won't truly be a thing of the past until technologies like this turn up...

To the joy of wives and girlfriends around the world, Sony has today announced the development of a new "highly efficient" wireless power transfer system which it claims will eliminate the use of power cables from electronic products such as PCs and televisions.

Raw stats see 60 watts of electrical energy transferred over a distance of up to 50cm with 80 per cent efficiency (60 per cent including rectifier). This isn't a great distance, but in fairness most technology is located extremely near to a mains power socket. Furthermore, this can be increased up to 80cm when combined with 'passive extender units' the company has developed.

"This new wireless power transfer system incorporates a form of contactless electrical energy transmission technology based on magnetic resonance," said an official Sony statement. "With magnetic resonance, electromagnetic energy is only transferred to recipient devices that share the identical resonant frequencies as the energy source, so energy transfer efficiency is maintained, even when misalignment occurs. Furthermore, even if there are metal objects located between the transmitter and receiver, no heat induction occurs."

Naturally the big questions with such exciting technology are 1) Is it safe? and 2) What about real world availability? Sony didn't provide answers to either of those, but since releasing any retail product that was physically harmful would see the company sued into oblivion within minutes, the first point would seem moot by the time of launch. Secondly, the generalities of the release suggest it won't appear for some time. After all, even contact based charging systems as seen with the Palm Pre and Dell Latitude Z are relatively new to market.

Still, if Sony is working on wireless power then inevitably so are many other companies. On the one hand this is good and on the other it suggests we'll launch into (possibly the biggest ever) standards battle in a year or two's time. So don't go binning your cables just yet, but perhaps feel free to give them a threatening glance...


Press Release


October 2, 2009, 7:38 pm

Aren't Microwaves, WiFi and Mobile Phones frying our brains already? Do we need another contender? Will we even care?

Paul Leigh

October 2, 2009, 7:50 pm

Have these people never heard of Nikola Tesla? He had wireless power working at the start of last century and I've had a kettle that conducts for years, Pah !!!


October 2, 2009, 8:15 pm

as good as it sounds, i don't think wireless power is something we really want, knowing that it's very likely to have some sort of health impact on us over time. If only all the peripherals were wireless on the other hand, that is more realistic and desirable, no need for HDMI cables (scart etc are to be phased out), already released I know but ideally, all new devices should have a wireless chip to transfer the data, be it visual or audio, or simply files. The problem is every major manafacturer wants their own format/idea to be the standard, so it's unlikely to happen, at least for a long time!


October 2, 2009, 8:33 pm

Haha! Threatening glance - genius.. Pick ANY Family Guy character and there's your glance!


October 2, 2009, 8:55 pm

Sony? Standards battle?


October 2, 2009, 9:05 pm

80% seems rather low, what's the efficiency of the average power cord?


October 2, 2009, 10:11 pm

60%? Yeah c'mon, lets fry the planet for the sake of fashion, at least we'll hand it over to our kids all bling 'n' that.


October 3, 2009, 8:34 am

To be honest I think this is AMAZING. That kind of efficiency although not practical for large drain devices is still more than good enough to charge your phone or laptop on some kind of charging pad under your desk at maybe 10-20cm. The science behind this is amazing its SO hard to transmit power wirelessly with any real efficiency over distance. I've done projects on the effects of magnetic force with distance, to even get near 20% at that distance is outstanding. (Think how a magnetic field works, the field lines spread in all different directions, they have basically concentrated them almost perfectly.)


October 3, 2009, 11:09 pm

So we're going to replace a couple of feet of cable with two amplifier sized 19 inch black boxes, worth every penny of the three figure sum they'll doubtless cost, wow! and you get to use more electricity thus cutting down on the central heating bills!


October 3, 2009, 11:34 pm

@Xenos: 2 billion mobile phones is a pretty large drain device.


October 4, 2009, 12:03 am

@Fleabane all technology has to start somewhere...


October 4, 2009, 12:57 am

i don't get what these companies are trying to do (intel, sony) showing wireless power prototypes that could quite frankly be knocked up in your garage on a weekend. look at the size of the boxes. to attain that sort of efficiency at that range almost certainly requires large coils (to get good coupling) - hence the large boxes, which is unlikely to change.

gordon - yes technology has to start somewhere but the basics of this are 100 years old (transformers, hf coils, etc). this is the wireless power consortium site which has less ambitious but more realistic plans for wireless power and has a useful section on the real physics/engineering of this subject


note the ICNIRP standard!


October 4, 2009, 4:48 am

Xiphias: Where did you get 2 billion from? We are not suggesting that ALL mobiles in the country be powered by ONE single unit. Or do you actually have 2 billion mobile phones lying around your house that need charging?


October 4, 2009, 8:42 am

@drdark @enigmatic2u No, this has no health problems. It's magmatic resonance. It transmits a magnetic field and that induces the electricity into the receiver. There's is no wave of anything that even remotely affects us going into the air. Magnetic fields have zero effect on us, even the Earth's ;)

There's a very interesting TED talk demonstrating wireless power to a TV, you might want to include with this news article Gordon.



October 4, 2009, 5:44 pm

Mr. Godfrey: Individual power consumption isn't an issue, you could run a house on wireless electricity that was only 10% efficient and you'd notice absolutely no difference. However if you switch the entire world to wireless electricity that's more than a percent or two less efficient than wires and you're looking at a huge amount of extra energy needed, more power stations etc.

p.s. If it was one device that could power everything that it might even stack up pretty favourably as you don't have the cost of manufacturing/recycling millions of power cables.

Mark 29

October 5, 2009, 1:59 pm

This is a simply brilliant idea. I can't wait for my neighbours to buy into this so I can buy some receiver units. Free electricity forever!

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