back to article Sony pulls plug on cabled power

Sony claims to have proven that reaching around the back of your TV to find that elusive power plug could, one day, become a problem of the past. The electronics giant has trialled an in-house “wireless power supply system” in Japan, which the firm claimed enabled a 22in LCD to wirelessly receive around 60W of power sent over …


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  1. Alex Walsh


    How incredibly expensive and impractical. 25% wastage? Bonkers.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    So how....

    Do you disconnect the mains in the event you need to power it off and back on again?

    OK, I am assuming you will have a little box in the plug , can just imagine getting a belt off it when you brush your hand against it when you are trying to disconnect the kit that's all

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Actually, 75% efficiency is pretty damn good.

    Certainly if you compare it to the usual efficiency for sending electricity from A to B through open air without a wire, which borders on zero percent.

  4. davefb

    I've a fantastic eco idea!

    save 25% , by plugging a cable in!

    This current fad for cable-less tech does seem perculiar , after all wires *work*, don't they ? Okay so maybe a lot of interconnects could go via wireless to cut down on all those myriad of hdmi cables we'll all end up with, but the power cable , is it really that bad ?

    With the extended range, does that drop power even more ? I'm guessing the 22inch device was because the tech looks even worse when applied to larger tv's with larger power requirements ?

  5. Jason Bloomberg

    Neat idea but ...

    With all the concerns about harmful electromagnetic radiation from a minuscule low-power device like a mobile phone, I can't help but think there will be bigger concerns about something pumping out around 100W, and many tens of kW if everything in each home were powered over the airwaves.

    I should imagine the technology is going to be interesting for anyone with a pacemaker, with any electronic device really.

    If everyone adopted the technology, I guess the planet will light up like a Christmas Tree for any aliens idly running their version of SETI. So, to be on the safe side, I for one welcome ...

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Nothing new

    Wow, Sony have invented... a mains transformer!!

  7. Anonymous Coward


    Haven't they just invented the air cored transformer. If anybody from Sony reads this, you can improve the efficiency by using something other that air - try something iron based say. I'm sure Maplin could sell you one

  8. TRT Silver badge

    Oh no!

    So now I have to re-do all my pre-recorded IT helpdesk tapes.

    "Is it plugged in? And is the power socket switched on?"

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    So let me get this straight, the gov are trying to get us to save power by unplugging our mobile chargers, and sony are wasting it like this?

  10. Mike Bell


    They should replace the fat black arrow in the bottom diagram with an image of someone's pacemaker exploding.

    Mine's the one with tin foil on the inside. Just in case.

  11. Rusk

    So what happens when.....

    So what would happen if you had several TV within range of each other? Also what if you tripped and through water in the air would the world get fried??????

  12. mr_chris

    @Alex Walsh

    Whilst it might be expensive and impractical at the moment, it's called research!

    Tell me where in that article does it say that this is a finished product Sony are happy that 25% wastage is acceptable?

    "But the technology is far from perfect, Sony admitted."

  13. richard 69

    what happens....

    if you fall asleep between the gap?

  14. Lee Dowling

    Unwanted side-effects?

    And what happens when you put your passport (with it's RFID coils) in the path of that? Does it induce a big enough current to be dangerous?

  15. AndrueC Silver badge

    Quack, damn you.

    Just what we need in this day and age. A new way to waste energy and another excuse to throw something perfectly serviceable into the bin.

    ..and how often exactly are people 'scrabbling around the back of the telly for a power cable'?

    So basically a wasteful solution to a none existent problem.

  16. Michael Shaw
    Thumb Down

    Fire, Fire...

    This sounds like they are using induction, just like we did at A-level physics, where the volatage and current generated in the second coil depend on the ratio of coils that pass through the magnetic field.

    Problems with this include having to prevent your next door neighbour stealing your power through the wall and problems with stray cables in the magnetic field and bits of iron being propelled aross the livingroom....

    But assuming they find new laws of physics to solve these problems, its sounds interesting...

  17. Anonymous Coward

    Don't tell you're insurance company.

    So what happens if you leave wire wool nearby, or any wiring that forms a closed loop ?

  18. Dan Stevenson

    So when ...

    So when are they going to unplug their finger from their @rse and sort out the sh1t firmware they have in many of their TVs ?

  19. The Original Ash


    Give me one of these energy beams, man! I want to be Doc Manhattan!

  20. Anonymous Coward

    What could possibly go wrong ?

    What happens if you leave wire wool or any wiring in a closed loop nearby ?

  21. Version 1.0 Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Other applications

    I can't see much use for this to power a TV but I can think of several sex toys that would be much improved if we didn't have to keep changing batteries... I wonder how this method works in the bath?

  22. Filippo Silver badge

    @Alex Walsh

    For wireless power transmission, it's actually quite nice. No technology starts out already perfected.

  23. eJ2095

    Erm ay this old tech

    Am sure there was a guy who lived by a radio transmitter that put a load of coils in his attic to covert the waves back into electricity

  24. Chris Bone


    will it fry the cat?

  25. Lionel Baden
    Thumb Up


    This is You telephone support Line

    Op: Please take you 52" plasma at least 10M of your house for 30 min then bring i back inside again

    ......30 min later

    User: it wont turn on

    Op: What do you mean it wont work ???

    User: Well i towelled it off and it doesnt work

    Op: Towelled it off ?????

    User: Yeah it was raining

  26. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge


    Sweet! Instead of a 10 foot power cord, I can just have a row of 6 or 8 giant coils lined up on the floor! And increase my power bill! Sounds great, Sony.

    In all seriousness, I suppose this is a prototype. But just by laws of physics, I think efficiency will never get close to what's achievable by just using a power cord, which to me seems like an important consideration.

  27. breakfast

    Not my field really

    I'm sure someone who knows electricty will be able to explain- does this magnetic induction thing mean that any ferrous metals nearby will be attracted/repelled/magnetised?

    Will it affect my precious collection of stereo cassette tapes, which I used to kill music through the medium of home taping back in the nineties.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    " reaching around the back of your TV to find that elusive power plug could, one day, become a problem of the past."

    Yes because there won't be any working tvs when the ice caps have melted because all appliances need 25% more energy to be transmitted wirelessly before they work.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Alex Walsh

    Do you mean to say Mr Wright that you can't get across the Atlantic? What an incredibly expensive and impractical waste of effort your Flyer is, you must be bonkers!

  30. Simon Martin

    An invisible cable

    I presume the thinking behind this idea goes: people like wandering around their houses/ cafes etc with wireless devices (laptops etc). The trouble is those toys tend to have a lousy battery life. So wouldn't be neat if they could get their power wirelessly as well? The answer to that question is yes.

    However the problem is to get anything like efficient transfer (and Sony's claimed efficiencies are pretty good) you need a carefully tuned set up. The transmitter and receiver need to be very specific shapes and need to be located with great precision. This is where the idea falls down. You cannot simultaneously wander around with something and keep that something in a precise place.

    Yes I know Sony are talking about this as a TV supply, but thats a bonkers idea commercially (who wanders round their house with a 22 inch TV?) I guess they used that because the TV was the smallest device that their tuned antenna would fit into...

  31. Ghosty
    Thumb Down

    Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

    They must all live under power lines...

    The affects of this sort of induction are still not truly understood and thats why suspended power lines are linked to health risks. This is truly madness.

  32. Jon 29
    Jobs Horns

    C'mon, you know you want one

    Yes, it's currently wasteful, harmful and probably not very good, but - no more wires! Admit it, we'll all get one when it goes on sale.

  33. Anonymous Coward

    yeah that's just great

    let's replace nice reliable power wires with two huge 40cm wide coils that will send the power.... almost two feet! Not to mention at great inefficiency and to the potential detriment of any other electrical devices in the vicinity.

    Anyone who thinks wireless power is a good idea really needs to get their head checked out, maybe a qualified medical professional can tell them where their remaining brain cells have gone.

    Used to be that only Apple fanboys were impressed by this kind of blatant gimmickry, now the wireless virus has leaked out and infected everyone. We use copper wires because they are the best way to send power, and second best at signaling, only beaten by fiber optic.

    No one needs a completely wireless TV. Anyone who thinks they do needs to remove their head from where it is stuck. Possibly with the aid of the local fire brigade.

    *and breath*

  34. Ralphe Neill


    So they can extend the range to 80 cm by using a relay unit ... what's wrong with a 1 metre cable?

  35. Bod

    Re: Nothing new

    I was about to say the same. One of the oldest electrical technologies in existence. "Magnetic Resonance" my arse. It's age old magnetic induction. The stuff you learn in school physics! (or used to. Probably don't these days. Probably just have to prove you can switch on a socket to get an A).

    And before anyone says it's the first use outside of transformers, there are loads of devices that already power like this. Even my electric toothbrush charges this way.

    But Sony will slap a funky name on it, colour it blue, patent it and be able to dominate the market for "wireless power". If Apple don't do it first that is ;) (in which case, funky name, colour it white, etc).

  36. Anonymous Coward


    Please provide evidence to back up your assertion that overhead power lines are a heath risk, short of stroking them lovingly when they're live.

    Peer reviewed articles in relevant respected journals would be perfect, especially with large cohort studes or double blind testing.

  37. Michael C

    Of all the useless crud

    TV's are not exaclty portable devices.... WTF would I care if I have to deal with a power plug once every several years when i move furniture or get a new TV?

    Even if the efficiency was 100%, it's still going to be a nasty price bump to include this technology.

    I'm somewhat interested in newer induction charging pads for pocket devices, as the ease of placing one on a pad instead of plugging it in is attractive, but not for a device that hardly ever moves!

    For $300 up front, and 25% more on the power bill, they'll save me what, 20 seconds over 5 years? When I make $10,000 an hour, i might considder it, as then it will actually make sense.

  38. Neil Kay
    Thumb Up

    AirGapMax 3000

    Now all we need is a can of "Monster Air" with oxygen-rich particles to improve your power transfer and see crisper pictures with cleaner-sounding audio!

    Simply spray Monster AirGapMax 3000 in the gap between your television and the power transmitter for 15 seconds before each viewing session, and then once again for 15 seconds every hour.

    A full can lasts almost 5 days!!

    Only £37 per 500ml can.

  39. Wortel

    Nikola Tesla

    is rolling in his grave.

  40. Tom 35

    How is this usful?

    " reaching around the back of your TV to find that elusive power plug could, one day, become a problem of the past."

    Now you have to reach around the back of the TV and the power transmitter to get to the power plug. So you have replaced a cheap 1 metre power cord with an expensive power transmitter and a 1/2 metre power cable.

  41. Anonymous Coward

    Electromagnetic Interference

    When more and more people start using this kind of thing, isn't it going to create huge amounts of electromagnetic noise - yes I know its down in the 50Hz range, but hell.

    Oh, and since a connection has been shown between living near high tension power lines and increased frequency of Leukemia, whats this going to do to public health once it becomes commonplace and manufacters crank up the power output to drive high consumption devices at larger distances....

    Finally - @AC "you're" != "your"

  42. Anonymous Coward

    Most of the comments are from idiots

    It's a tech demo people! No, it isn't very good at the moment, but it is a proof of principle! Doesn't anyone think these days?

  43. b166er

    Dan Stevenson

    Yeah, like, never, dude! They'll just rinse you for another one soon. Get with the programme.

    A fool and his money...

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Nikola is the dude :)

    "Anyone who thinks wireless power is a good idea really needs to get their head checked out, maybe a qualified medical professional can tell them where their remaining brain cells have gone."

    yeah your right, next someone will be wanting to use burned-out florescent lights upto 50 feet away to light up their rooms wirelessly, perhaps in 118 years they might just about be starting to understand the ramifications and try and commercialise these things.

    for ever your Mr Tesla.


  45. Anonymous Coward


    Hey, no power cord, great! Now how about this cord that delivers the video?

    I'm so old I remember when phones were wired and televisions were wireless.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    tesla the commercial electricity dude...

    and OC people would be wanting to .....

    make a solar satellite, which could send energy wirelessly to a space vessel or planetary surface.

  47. Cameron Colley

    @Those who think the technology may be good when mature.

    Please explain how using an air-gap transformer is more efficient than using wires.

    If it isn't then this technology is pointless. Whether you believe in all the Carbons bollocks or not we're still facing problems supplying enough energy to a growing world population.

  48. Geoffrey W

    Ludd is alive and well

    For a tech site the forums sure are full of crusty old luddites and reactionaries. I can just imagine you all when the first barely audible recordings were stored on those scratchy wax cylinders, and the first air craft went bouncing along the ground. Those recordings were hardly hi-fi and you couldnt really call that flight, but look at what we have done since then. You guys are so cynical and have a total lack of any imagination; its a wonder you can bother getting out of bed in the morning. The only reason you don't slash your wrists is because you just know the next life is going to be crap too.

    Apologies if anyone else has already made a similar point - I got so bored and depressed by the first couple screen fulls of comments I had to fight the urge to stick my head in the microwave oven and couldnt read any further.

  49. Anonymous Coward

    I encourage...

    ...all the half-blind idiots whining about "Why are we doing this when there's global warming / hungry people / etc" to do their part by not wasting electricity posting on el Reg comment sections. Sound fair?

    And @CureForSanity, I'm going to requote your post here, since it's so apt:

    "Do you mean to say Mr Wright that you can't get across the Atlantic? What an incredibly expensive and impractical waste of effort your Flyer is, you must be bonkers!"

  50. Hairy Scary

    @ AC 16:51

    It's not down at 50Hz, it's high frequency so there will be rf interference radiated. there's nothing new in this, as other posters have said, it's high school physics.

    About 40 years ago I had a setup for doing this -- I had a tungsten filament bulb with a short length of copper wire connected to it's terminals -- I would leave it sitting on the table using the copper loop as a support holding it upright. Much to peoples surprise, it would suddenly light up.

    Hidden under the table was a high frequency oscillator with a purposely designed tank coil sending the output upwards, the copper wire on the bulb formed the secondary of the transformer picking up enough energy to light the bulb easily (almost to the point of burning it out).

    No idea of efficiency, it was just done for a laugh, you could pick the bulb up and it would remain lit -- it would get dimmer as it was taken further away from the table though.

  51. John Carolin

    Tin Foil Hats

    And i'm supposed to believe wireless power isn't going to give me brain cancer.

  52. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    I smell bacon

    Reaching around the back of your TV to find that elusive power plug could, one day, fry your hand.

  53. Anonymous Coward

    Re: who wanders round their house with a 22 inch TV?

    I have heard that in Japan the housewife carries a portable TV around the house as she does the housework much as your British housewife might used to have carried a small transistor radio around (in the days before personal stereos, or DAB sets' need for mains power).

    Besides the general issues of such wireless power transfer (like the RF magnetic field exceeding internationally-recognised human-safety standards by a factor of several hundred or more - in the case of US university demos a year or two ago), with LCD modules you've got the additional problem that you'd normally have large areas of sheet metal, which will act as a shorted turn and sap all the power. I expect they had to do some major redesign of the TV assembly to make it work at all.

  54. Anonymous Coward

    @Nikola Tesla

    >"is rolling in his grave."

    Quick, wrap a coil around him and turn him into a dynamo!

  55. Diogenes
    Thumb Up

    Solves the age old problem

    of the manufacturer knowingly and with malice aforethought suppling a power cord that is either between 1 and 6 inches too short, or has a box on it that is a few mm to wide to sit beside a piece of furniture - or is supplied with a "handed" plug (ie cord comes does not come out of the bottom) which is always the wrong way round - or all of the above

  56. Wintermute

    Stunning Levels of Ignorance

    Often, I enjoy the comments on TheReg as much as the article itself. But when it comes to this new technology, the level of ignorance about fundamentals of physics is just stunning.

    I won't link you to anything that might assume you're got more brainpower than a slug, so here is a really pretty, simple, straight-forward demo for you all:

    The URL name speaks for itself.

  57. Sarev

    Did nobody read this one... ?

    If someone can just sort out the efficiency of wireless power to your TV, then you won't have to pay a TV licence...

  58. Anonymous Coward

    Are splashpower still around?

    Back in the early years of the 21st century, an outfit at that time called Splashpower were trying to use inductive coupling for power delivery for small appliances.

    Some readers may remember it being reported here on El Reg:

    The technology was so succesful that in May 2008 they went into administration (as do a great many new businesses), as again reported here on El Reg:

    See also the non-product WiTricity.

    Quite how this doesn't warrant a mention in yet another article on the non-product which is inductive coupling, especially at non-trivial power levels over non-trivial distances, is left as an exercise to the reader.

    See also:

    Wireless Power Consortium:

    "Short distance power transmission is usually based on the principle of magnetic induction. With this technology, power is transferred only if the receiver is close to the transmitter."

  59. Dale 3

    @Don't tell you're insurance company

    Psst! I'm an insurance company. But shhhhh, don't tell; it's a secret.

  60. Adam Rulli-Gibbs

    Wright vs Boffo The Clown

    "Do you mean to say Mr Wright that you can't get across the Atlantic? What an incredibly expensive and impractical waste of effort your Flyer is, you must be bonkers!"

    Do you mean to say Mr Boffo that your invention cannot reach <insert-bad-country-du-jour>? What an incredibly expensive and impractical waste of effort your Custard Pie Cannon is, you must be bonkers!

  61. Richard 102
    Thumb Down

    Magnetic fields are not a health hazard

    The earth's magnetic field here at the surface, where we all live our whole lives (practically), has a field strength of about half a gauss. If a microgauss device like a cell phone can induce cancer, it's about 4.5 billion years too late to do anything about it.

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