We've become accustomed to wireless chargers that harness a phenomenon called electromagnetic induction to power up nearby mobile devices. The range is very low though, usually requiring the device to be placed right on top of the charging coil. Now though, University of Tokyo researchers and their colleagues have built a model living room that wirelessly powers a lamp, fan, smartphone, and other electric devices.
The room's walls are conductive aluminum panels that work like a scaled-up version of a wireless smartphone charger, creating a three dimensional magnetic field inside. And no, it won't electrocute you.
From Scientific American:
"We're not saying blanketly that this technology is safe under all uses—we're still exploring," says study co-author Alanson Sample, an associate professor at the University of Michigan's electrical engineering and computer science department. "But it gives us some confidence … that there's still lots of area for us to be well underneath that threshold of power, where we can still charge your cell phone just as easily as you walk into a room, without having to worry about those safety issues."
Beyond phones, Sample suggests a dedicated wireless charging room would allow a variety of electronic devices—sensors, mobile robots or even medical implants—to function in the background, recharging themselves without a wired connection and letting humans largely ignore them. The technique could also be applied to more specialized situations. "I can imagine this being really useful for highly instrumented, expensive spaces like, for example, an operating room," Smith says, "where you can imagine having various instruments and devices just be able to be powered without needing cords."