Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Delivering Electricity Like WiFi

Earlier this month, my Globe column profiled WiTricity, a relatively new MIT spin-out that's trying to bring to market a system for wirelessly transmitting electricity (and doing it safely.)

Here's the opening:

    In a brick building in Watertown where men's suits were once made, Eric Giler is running a company that seems to be defying the gravity of the current economic morass.

    Investors call to ask whether they can give him money. Customers request demos and suggest they're ready to commit to partnerships as quickly as possible. At January's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Giler plans to rent a hotel suite in the Venetian (not a highly trafficked booth at the convention center) and schedule meetings selectively.

    His company, WiTricity Corp., is commercializing a breakthrough unveiled last year by MIT researchers: the ability to safely transmit power through thin air. Imagine electricity beamed around rooms the way Wi-Fi provides an Internet link. WiTricity could provide the power to keep a mobile phone's battery perpetually charged or operate a wall-hung flat-screen TV without cords.

Here's the video of CEO Eric Giler giving a demo of the system:

They don't yet have much of a Web site yet, but eventually it will be here.

Mass High Tech supplies more background on Giler; I provided an update on the company back in October.

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

An Update on WiTricity, the Wireless Power Company

WiTricity is a new MIT spin-out hoping to make electricity just like WiFi -- beam it through the air, and allow all your electronics to "tune in." (I've previously covered them here.)

An update... they've got offices now in Watertown. They're hiring RF engineers. Right now, the company consists of "10 PhDs and me," according to CEO Eric Giler. ( Giler had previously been CEO of Groove Mobile and Brooktrout Technology.) Marin Soljacic, one of the original MIT researchers, remains involved. They got $4 million in Series A funding in the second quarter of this year, from Argonaut Private Equity and Stata Venture Partners.

Giler says they're building a "real world" prototype (IE, something that will work more reliably than the initial lab prototype), and they're beginning to talk to potential customers.

This is a potentially big company...keep an eye on them...

Labels: , , , , , ,

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Watts by Air

Science News has a great piece about how an MIT team successfully transmitted electricity over the airwaves ... something people have been puzzling over since Nikola Tesla began exploring the problem early in the 20th century.

From the piece:

    "What they've done is take some very basic physics concepts [and] brought these ingredients together. It's the synthesis which is the novel thing," says [John] Pendry [, a physicist at Imperial College in London].

    Shanhui Fan, a physicist at Stanford University, says that the use of magnetic resonance as a means of transferring energy is a completely new concept, and "very clever." Although it's a simple principle, nobody seems to have thought of it before, he says. "Many great things look simple from hindsight."

    [MIT prof Marin] Soljacic and his colleagues have applied for two patents, and they have branded their idea with the name WiTricity to suggest an electrical-power version of Wi-Fi wireless-Internet technology.

    But if the physics is simple, why didn't anyone think of it sooner? Soljacic suggests that before the spread of cell phones and laptops, there was little need for a wirefree power source. In fact, Soljacic admits that what got him thinking hard about wireless power was the frustration of being awakened at night by a beeping cell phone that needed to be recharged.

Labels: , ,