Wireless electricity or witricity refers to an up and coming technology for the future power supply system. This technology enables devices to be remotely powered over a distance of up to a few meters (Beeby & White, 2010). It has a distinctive advantage over the long-established transfer of electricity using wires. It offers a convenient way of running electrical devices, where the power connection wires are impossible or troublesome. This technology is also advantageous in that, it eliminates the connecting wires, thus reducing product’s cost, and offers a maintenance-free solution for the power supply. Wireless electricity transfer is more ‘green’, compared to the current charging methods.
The science that drove the wireless electrical transfer is a magnetic resonance coupling. The two resonant objects /coils are placed couple feet from each other, and are tuned in order to resonate at the same time frequency. The first coil is connected to the electric current, and the magnetic field is supported, which causes the resonation of other coils. The whole process sets in motion the transfer of the current electric, invisibly from the one coil to another. The witricity technology, thus, uses magnetism, electromagnetism, magnetic induction, energy induction, resonance and resonant magnetic coupling (Hadley, 2007).
The Historical Development and Context of Development
Wireless power transmission dates back to the early 1900s and1890, when Nickola Tesla demonstrated that electrical energy could be transmitted without wires (Sarka, 2006). Tesla experimented with electromagnetic induction systems. In 1964, William Brown demonstrated a model helicopter that was powered by microwave. The helicopter received all the power that it required from a micro wave beam. This was followed by Bill Brown transmission on 30kW power above a range of 1 mile at an efficiency of 84% without using cables in 1975. Researchers then developed various techniques for moving electricity over the long ranges without using wires. Some of these researches are already in use, whereas others exist only as prototypes and theories.
One of the most recent developments in wireless electricity was the discovery of a new method of providing electricity to remote objects without wires. This discovery was made by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers in 2006. In 2007, they came up with a prototype using the self resonant coil. They transferred 60W of power over seven feet with 40% efficiency (Kurs et al., 2007). Intel used a different design in 2008, which reached 75% efficiency (Robertson, 2008). Scientific factors drove the model of wireless technology. Magnetism, electromagnetism, magnetic induction, energy induction, resonance and resonant magnetic coupling have brought about developments in wireless electricity.
Political and Legal Influences
Nikola Tesla’s research on the potential of wireless transmission was never completed due to the lack of funding. After his death, all his papers were seized by the FBI, and taken to Washington, where they were classified as the top secret (Cheney, 2001). The FBI had also intervened with the developments because of what they termed as safety issues. Currently, developments in witricity are funded by the government, research bodies, learning institutions, and companies. The research by MIT was funded by the National Science Foundation, Army Research Office as well as the Department of Energy. This means that the research was funded by two research bodies and the government.
Economic Questions and Considerations
The economic questions that arise with regards to wireless electricity are whether this new technology will reduce the cost of living, and whether it will improve people’s lives. Witricity systems can be designed to be used in diverse fields. The technology is an exceptional way of transferring energy in the usual commercial, industrial and consumer environment. The witricity production is safe for people, animals and other environmental objects. This means that it will be in high demand from most people to avoid using the cables. It will impact negatively the employment, because people will be laid off, because the new technology does not require many operators. However, the technology will be outsourced to other countries, and this will generate revenue for the country. Generally, this technology has tremendous economic impact on the human society, because it will eliminate the need for a costly, inefficient and capital intensive grid of cables, substations and towers.
Psychological Considerations and Sociological Effects
The new technology has been accepted by people. It is favored by people, because, unlike other previous applications, witricity is safe for people, animals and environmental objects, because it is the nonradioactive energy. Wireless electricity makes daily products more reliable, environmentally-friendly and safe. Wireless electricity falls under the physiological needs. It grants the need for more reliable and convenient products.
The Technology in its Cultural Context, Media Influence
Wireless electricity has contributed to America being rated among the best, in terms of technical innovation, scientific research and development. The technology has enabled wireless charging for existing electric vehicle classes, industrial vehicles and golf carts, which has led to its being mentioned by the media repeatedly. Witricity is derived from Wireless electricity, and this had added to the vocabulary in technology. The technology relates to the concept of novelty and human creativity, because it is has put forward a main breakthrough that provides electricity without medium of the wires. This is an important discovery, because we live in a world where almost each and everything is cordless or wireless. This technology has definitely raised the standard of living.
Researchers expect witricity to be ready for the commercial use in cell phones and other wireless devices in three or five years (Firestone, 2009). This means that the technology will improve even the cultural aspects of people’s life.
Implications for the Environment
Wireless electricity is environmentally-friendly. It gets rid of cables, wires and transmission towers. Wireless electricity is green, because it eliminates the need for batteries (Masters, 2009). It capitalizes on the strain or motion to offer power to particular device. It enables monitoring and tracking of hazardous materials without the cost of batter replacement and maintenance. Fifteen billions of disposable batteries are bought every year, and Americans throw away 2.8 million of the highly toxic batteries into the landfills (Masters, 2009). This amounts to pollution. Wireless electricity eliminates the need for batteries.
Moral and Ethical Implications
The ethical value expressed by this technology is pride, because one hundred years after the initial invention of this technology, scientists have finally been able to generate wireless electricity that is eco-friendly. It is a convenient way for energy to get from one place to another. The technology that Witricity Corp is developing is in line with their company’s mission and values. The company’s vision is to develop numerous wireless electric power components, which enable OEM’s in a wide range of applications and industry to make their products ‘truly’ wireless. The company is responsible if something goes wrong or if the critical information is withheld from the public. Most people love freedom, and the future of wireless technology will bring more freedom than most of the people can imagine.