A new prototype WiFi router that can charge electronic devices remotely, from as far as 30 feet away, without effecting internet connectivity, is currently undergoing testing by a team at the University of Washington.
It works by converting signals from a modified WiFi router, called PoWiFi, into energy. It then uses a rectifier to conver these signlas into direct current, which is then converted into the current voltage by a DC-DC converter.
So far the prototype route has been tested in 6 homes, and has yielded positvie results so far. One of the most interesting findings of the study is that using WiFi to charge your devices has no impact on your internet connection, keeping it working just as well as it would otherwise. This is due to the routers ability to prioritise tasks, only charging devices when the queue for WiFi connection requests is below a certain threshold.
“This minimises the impact on the associated Wi-Fi clients while effectively providing continuous power delivery to harvesters.” said a member of the team at the University of Washington.
What is described as a “random signal” is continuesly transmitted by the router, even when no one is using it, to allow the WiFi router to provide continuous power if it were needed.
The types of devices that are being charged in the test include battery-free temperature measuring devices, low-resolution camera sensors and rechargeable battters. They team found that batteries could be charged from up to 28 feet away, whilst other, more power demanding devices needed to be closer, around 10 feet from the router.
Although the router is currently only being tested on extremely low-powered devices, this is the first step on the course to develop a PoWiFi router for larger devices, such as mobile phones and other, larger devices. However, the technology is no where near that stage at this time, although the team is hopeful of the technology can get there over time.