Powerbeam, the wireless electricity start-up

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powerbeamlogo.jpgPowerbeam, a new Silicon Valley start-up, is working on a revolutionary idea: Using a laser to beam light, the energy of which would be used to power your laptop or other device without having to plug it in.

PowerBeam says its powerful laser can transmit more electrical power than other methods, and it comes with a safety feature. Dean Takahashi of the Merc has seen the product demonstrated, and he’s duly enthusiastic.

As Dean describes it, here’s how it would work for regular people: You’d sit in a room with your laptop, and a laser atop the light fixture would be directed by a camera system (that’s a hard part) to find your laptop’s solar receptor (the solar cell would be on your laptop). You potentially wouldn’t need batteries.

Obviously, there are huge infrastructure challenges, because you’d need these lasers, fixtures and detection systems in lots of places before regular people on the go can use them. As other recent solar cell start-ups like Nanosolar, Miasole have found out, the science isn’t the big deal. It’s the engineering and execution that will make or break a company. But imagine the potential of such a company, if the laser power itself were to come from solar panels, so that the entire energy transmission system would be solar. No wonder the company is planning to raise venture money. With venture capitalists so passionate about the clean energy area (big-name John Doerr was so choked up at the recent TED conference that he was in tears), Powerbeam may just find some backing.

Read Dean’s story, which mentions the other wireless power efforts to date, including the MIT research effort under Marin Soljacic; Powercast, a Pennsylvania start-up that says it has a safe wireless power system that uses radios to transmit power; and WildCharge, which plans to sell pads that wireless charges cellphones placed on it.

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