How Wi-Fi will power tomorrow's battle gear

Wi-Fi power has “any number of applications” on the battlefield, said Paul Roege, a retired Army colonel who also served as chief of the Army Operational Energy Office. Those include “inductive charging pads in a vehicle seat that could recharge soldier batteries on the ride to battle to a laser beaming power from an aerostat to a small patrol, either moving or stopped.” Over the last few years, he said, he has encouraged the Army to explore wireless energy for a variety of uses. “The Army actually has it on their screen today,” he said.

The amount of power that Vamsi Talla and his UW colleagues demonstrate in their paper might be enough for a wide variety of devices. “For example, if you have a bunch of sensors that could be arrayed near a hotspot, you can expand the idea a bit by having a battery or capacitor that charges up over time for use during the occasional powered activity — picture-taking, measurement, or even transmission,” said Roege. He added that there were some big limitations, including proximity to the hotspot. They might also power very small LED lights, of the sort that the Air Force Research Laboratory is implanting into gloves as part of the Batman program. But it’s not going to power your drone-killing laser — at least not yet.