Douwe Osinga's Blog: Surround sound and wireless current

Monday, December 15, 2003

I love watching movies with my wife, preferably on a big screen with surround sound. At home so far that meant that the rear speakers where burried under books and other stuff. No longer. I rewired everything and now they hang from the ceiling.

All very nice and the surround sound emulation for non-surround sound movies isn't so bad either. But you have a lot of wires. There's a optical connection between my computer and the amplifyer and 6 double wires between the amplifyer and the speakers, 30 meters or so in total. It's a mess.

Wireless is the future of course, but it only goes so far. Conceivably, I could connect the speakers wirelessly to my amplifyer and/or computer, but they still would need power. So far, every wireless device I got comes with a little black box that does power converting, which makes the solution sometimes worse than the original problems.

Wireless will only be true wireless if we get wireless electricity. Nikola Telsa, the inventor of AC, the patents for which he sold for a million dollars, died a poor man, still scheming about how to accomplish wireless electricity. At one point he build a 250.000 dollar world broadcasting tower on Long Island which was supposed to broadcast images, messages and electricity, kind of what the whole 3G is about, but without the annoying thing that you have to recharge your telephone all the time.

Is it possible? Apart from the wilder schemes that are still circuated by the Teslastas, I see some options. A low frequency, standing electrical field could probably be setup indoors with devices picking up energy from it, similar to a microwave, but on a less harmfull frequency, but people wouldn't trust it and think it would give them cancer. I would. Small amounts of Methan could be released in the athmosphere and fuelcells could convert it to electricity on the fly. People would be worried about explosions and a lot of the gas would be lost. Also, Methan seems to be causing global warming.

The most obvious choice is devices that convert sunlight into electricity. They wouldn't work in the dark, which is bad if you're trying to watch a movie, but they could store it in batteries maybe. There already is a batteryback for some Nokias with build in solar cells. It takes forever for them to recharge, but it shows the way.