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Wireless power startup WiTricity offers a $1000 demo kit

Posted by Scott Kirsner  September 12, 2012 04:46 PM

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WiTricity CEO Eric Giler will announce at a conference in Shanghai later today that his startup will soon start selling a $1000 kit that demonstrates how electricity can be sent wirelessly over a distance of a foot or more, even through a brick wall or wood tabletop.

The kit, called Prodigy, shows how a WiTricity-designed base station can transmit about a watt of power omni-directionally, lighting up one or two plastic disks that contain an array of LEDs. (A video demo is below.) WiTricity uses magnetic fields oscillating at a particular frequency to transfer power efficiently over short distances. The approach was first demonstrated at MIT in 2007.

"We get thousands of inquiries about potential applications of the technology, where people have ideas and they want to get their hands on our stuff," says David Schatz, right, director of business development and marketing at WiTricity. He says the Prodigy kit is targeted at engineers who want to explain to management how the technology works, as well as independent product designers and inventors who are working on new products. (The kit is also available to science educators and academic researchers at a slightly reduced price, $750.) WiTricity hopes that some of the companies purchasing the kits may eventually become licensees of its technology; thus far, WiTricity has been working primarily with consumer electronics and automotive companies, to enable cordless recharging of devices like laptops, mobile phones, and electric vehicles.

witricity2.jpgThe kit consists of a "base station" and battery pack, which transmits "less than one watt of electricity," Schatz says, to two discs that light up. There's also a rubber pad that contains a passive coil and capacitors, which can be used to roughly double the effective range of the base station, to about two feet.

The first 40 of the kits will go to WiTricity employees, Schatz says, who will now presumably be able to show off to friends and family the rather amazing stuff they've been working on at the office.

I last wrote about WiTricity in April of 2011, when Toyota invested in the company. WiTricity has so far raised $20 million in funding, Giler says.

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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