Wall-mounted televisions could become a lot more attractive if Sony can bring its wireless television technology to market.
Today, the company showed off a system that transmits up to 60 watts of energy over 50 centimeters, or roughly 20 inches. Sony has even extended this distance by up to 31 inches with passive extender units, but only in lab testing with components only.
The technology uses magnetic resonance, tuning two devices to the same resonant frequency in order to pass energy from one to the other. Typically, the problem with wireless inductive charging is the loss of efficiency during the transfer, but Sony says its technology has 80 percent efficiency, or 60 percent including a rectifier that speeds the transfer. As Gizmodo points out, Intel is working on similar technology.
However, the Wireless Power Consortium — an open standards group consisting mainly of electronics companies, not including Sony — says long-distance power through the air is impractical. The consortium notes that efficiency drops dramatically when the distance between devices exceeds the diameter of the base coil. Concerns are also raised over bodily harm from exposure to electromagnetic fields.
Judging from the photo of Sony’s experiment, it seems these problems haven’t been addressed. The TV is still pretty close to the coil, and the glass casing surrounding the unit makes me think there’s some element of human protection happening here.
Nonetheless, Sony says it’s committed to developing a wide range of products that use wireless transfer. And I hope they succeed. The company notes that growth in networked products has led to an increasing number of cables for devices. Looking at my TV stand, which runs all three current gaming consoles, some of them wired to the Internet, I can certainly relate to that.