Nikola Tesla, one of America’s greatest scientists and technologists, dreamed of broadcast power. That is, the ability to feed electrical power to a device via the air, rather than via wires. He sort of accomplished that (radio waves are a kind of broadcast power in themselves), but not to the level he believed possible.

Well, a local company, Powercast, is taking the technology a few steps closer to that dream. They were the darlings of CES, and many technology news outlets are talking about their closely-guarded secrets.

Rather than try to squeeze their technique through my muddled grasp of electrical engineering, I’ll quote the CNET article linked above instead:

It works like this: a transmitter can be placed anywhere–in a lamp, for example, that is plugged into the wall and sits on a table. The transmitter in the lamp sends out a continuous, low RF signal. Anything with either AA or AAA batteries set within its range–and equipped with a Powercast receiver, which is the size of your fingernail–will be continuously charged.

Technology similar to this has been in use for years, but Powercast is getting a great deal of attention. With powerhouses like Phillips contracted to use Powercast’s technology, it won’t be long before we’ll have this stuff in our homes.

Although the US now lags behind countries like Norway in the long, fast march toward the singularity, companies like Powercast and institutions like CMU’s world-renowned robotics and artificial intelligence endeavors give me hope that our area might have a future beyond the decline of the steel industry.

Pittsburgh as the next Silicon Valley? It might not be as far away as we think.

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