Monday, August 19, 2013
If you'd like to start your week with something inspirational, by all means go
to this New York Times story about inventor-entrepreneur Meredith
Perry. Here, she describes her "eureka moment", at the end of a long day of
research on her laptop:
"I was just standing in my room," she said, "wrapping up my laptop charger and trying to fit it into my bag and suddenly it occurred to me: Wow, this is so archaic. Why are we using these 20-foot wires to plug in our quote-unquote wireless devices?"The story describes the many obstacles she faced along the road from this moment to running her own company, including "constricted thinking" on the part of specialists she consulted with and a general lack of interest on the part investors -- but the following stood out to me:
As Ms. Perry soon learned, there are very good reasons that we don't beam electricity through the air. Though you can transmit the entire electromagnetic spectrum, from radio waves to gamma rays, there are problems. "I realized that anything on the right half of the spectrum was too dangerous to beam," she said, "and anything on the left half of the spectrum that was closer to radio was either too inefficient or tightly regulated by the government." [bold added]If memory serves me, I recall seeing something to the effect that a student in Pennsylvania had come up with a way to charge electronics wirelessly some time before I encountered this article. This sounded too good to be true to me, in part because I figured that if it were possible, someone would have already solved the problem by now.
Maybe further investigation of the artificially off-limits parts of the EM spectrum would have resulted in an impasse, and sound would have proved to be the solution. I have no idea. Nevertheless, I can't help but wonder whether a couple of unforeseen consequences of government regulation here have been that (1) we've all been having to waste time fiddling with chargers long past a time when wireless power transmission at home might have been realized, and (2) Perry's considerable drive and hard work are being diverted from other challenges.