Ah, the sound of a drained cellphone juicing up. But look closely: the iPhone is charging but no charger is in sight. Welcome to WiTricity in Watertown, Massachusetts. It's an unassuming building from the outside, but inside a wireless revolution is underway.
Alex Gruzen, the CEO, said it eliminates worries about having the right cable, connector, or adapter. No more different chargers and cables.
To understand how it works -- say a light bulb can turn on without being plugged into anything -- we turned to Vice President of Marketing Kaynam Hedayat.
One coil plugged into the grid transmits electricity. The other receives it. When they are tuned to the same frequency, tada.
The cellphone has a special sleeve that is picking up a charge from a transmitter attached to the bottom of the table.
Hedayat said they also have a totally wire-free television, not a cable in sight. The TV receives electromagnetic waves from a transmitter beneath it.
Hedayat took his props and did something a bit odd to demonstrate the safety of the technology: he transferred power through his head. But how does he know it is totally safe when this technology is so new? He said it is non-radiative, it's a magnetic field. A regular cellphone has radiation.
But the technology can do more than just charge your cell phone or turn on a light bulb. Soon, it is going to be able to power an electric car.
Toyota has licensed WiTricity's technology for its new all-electric Prius. That means owners won't have to deal with plugging in to charge up.
Right now, very few of the technologies we saw demonstrated are available to the public. But that's about to change. Gruzen said 2015 is going to be a big year.
WiTricity is not the only player in the game. A competitor named Qi has already introduced several wireless charging solutions using a slightly different technology.
Gruzen predicts an eventual uniformity of standards across the industry. He said throughout the day we will be "energy snacking" -- charging our devices for a few minutes at a time because it will be convenient to just place them on a table and charge. Grunez said that when that energy snacking becomes a reality, the implications will be, well, electric.