back to article Wireless Power breakthrough: Iron Man can lose the chest reactor

Engineering boffins in the States have announced details of a new method of wireless power transmission which can reach inside a human body to power tiny implanted devices, so removing the need for repeated surgery in order to change batteries - or movie-style options such as the chest-socket "arc reactor" or hand-carried car …


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  1. James 51 Silver badge


    This is stuff worth patenting, not rounded corners (although if spooks invented it first, wouldn't that invalidate the patent?).

    1. frank ly Silver badge

      Re: Patent

      You can't keep something secret and then jump up years later and say, "I invented that, so you can't patent it."

      An invention has to be published (to make it prior art) or patented (to give it patent protection) to prevent a later developer from claiming patent rights. Any spooks have obviously done neither of those things.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Patent

        Sometimes it's not in the spooks interest to patent things.

        GPG-style 2 key encryption was developed by spooks in the late 50's/early 60s. The last thing they wanted was for it to become public domain any sooner than possible.

        As for rectennas, they were in use as far back as the 1950s. The breakthrough here is making 'em small.

        There were rumours of ultrasound power-transmission systems on submarines decades ago (to avoid pressure hull breaches) but those were only confirmed recently.

        1. Jon B

          Re: Patent

          Don't worry, Apple will have patented it already.

  2. Scott 19


    Nanobot me up baby.

  3. ContentsMayVary

    Not sure, but I think Tesla might already have some patents relating to wireless transmission of energy...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Nikola Tesla? I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that they have expired.

      1. Chemist

        "Nikola Tesla? I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that they have expired."

        If they are relevant they are still prior art though

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Cue the Tree-Huggers

      I am sure there is an insect or bird somewhere whose sex life would be impacted by wireless power transmission. This innovation must be stopped at all costs!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Angus Ireland

    Wireless pacemakers?

    "I hate it, I never get any phone signal here."

    "Me neither. Hey, why has my heart stopped beating?"

  5. Linbox

    "Ada Poon"

    I had to stop reading after getting to the name.

    1. Graham Bartlett

      Re: "Ada Poon"

      Just hope she never has a Chinese boyfriend. The possibility of someone getting an actual surname "Poon-Tang" is frightening.

  6. yoinkster

    hehehe, Poon.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Not as comedic as

      Rectenna...I genuinely read that as a abbreviation of "rectal antenna"..

      Another visual image i have to try and repress...

  7. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    1.7Ghz is *roughly* 176mm wavelength

    So some kind of wound spiral (like the aerial on smart cards would do it.

    Not quit nanobot sized but *fairly* small.

    Now about the HUD wired directly to my optic nerve....

  8. ShelLuser


    Next you'll tell us they will make a larger version and call it the Broadcast Energy Transmitter (B.E.T.) and get some specialized military personnel guarding it. Which of course fails and the BET will get captured by a "ruthless terrorist organization determined to rule the world".

    And before you know it G.I. Joe the movie (wikipedia link) suddenly isn't so much science fiction after all!

  9. Ian Yates

    Published in the Daily Mail with the headline...

    "Cancer Ray Invented"

    (to be revised in 6 months as "Electricity Gun Cures Cancer")

  10. Nigel 11

    Inductive coupling?

    I've always wondered why medical implants can't be recharged by simple mains-frequency inductive coupling. An iron-cored coil connected to a rectifier inside the patient (sealed in appropriate non-metallic bio-compatible material). To recharge, strap a bigger mains-activated coil on the outside of the body.

    Ancient technology, but it's how my electric toothbrush is recharged. Why haven't medical devices used it for decades?

    1. dlc.usa

      Re: Inductive coupling?

      "Why haven't medical devices used it for decades?"

      Repeat business model?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re. inductive coupling

    Back in me younger days I looked into sending power and data through optical means, as skin is fairly transparent at 850nm.

    The main issue is that it loses a lot of power in the transfer, however if a VCSEL array was used and the new multi junction solar cells as the receiver it should work.

    Shouldn't be much if any damage to the skin and the solar cells work just fine at 37C.

    Kickstarter anyone?

    AC/DC but mailto anarchy2012

  12. attoman

    Inductive couple and optical near infrared power transmission

    We did the 8xx nm near infrared power transmission to meet the medical transformer limits in a bio appliance in 1975. Wasn't worth patenting. Worked great even with the poor LEDs of the day.

    Certainly energy could be coupled inductively but this is exactly the kinds of magnetic fields, things like pacemakers and their leads do not want to see.

    The guys and girls at Stanford seem to have missed the biggest point. I know all you inventors in the Reg audience get it. Sure you do....

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