While the Army might seem an unlikely source of funding for wireless charging technology – when you think of all of the portable gadgets that the modern warfighter tends to carry, things start to make a lot more sense. There is a place for the tech in the Army, a need for it even – properly charged gadgets can mean the difference between life and death.
DARPA has succeeded in building wireless systems with a range of up to two meters – that is roughly an eighth of the 50 feet figure that the Army has floated. The system that they used to accomplish their feat involved the use of “strongly-coupled magnetic resonators” and power coils, the latter of which need to get bigger as the distances become greater. Things get unwieldy very quickly and soldiers are already asked to carry quite a lot. While it might seem that the project is nothing more than a simple (but expensive) pipedream, there are a few people who think that they might be able to turn it into reality. The 50-foot figure sounds ridiculous, but the research does not necessarily need to be successful for the project to bear fruit.
At the moment, researchers have been experimenting with repeaters and have managed to accomplish room-scale wireless charging. Repeaters allow for wireless charging over fairly large distances. The object that is to be charged needs to be in close proximity to the repeater but can be a long distance from the actual power source. If they are able to boost the range of the repeaters a little more and push it into the 5- to 10-foot range, then things might start to get interesting. A system like that could easily be installed at strategic points around a base – or it could be set up in an equipment room. The ideal situation would be for soldiers to never have to do anything to charge their equipment, but being able to place it in an equipment room or near a repeater in the barracks would be the next best thing.