Alt.CES: RCA’s Wi-Fi “Power Harvester” Snakeoil?

Computers & Mobile Technology
Alt.CES: RCA’s Wi-Fi “Power Harvester” Snakeoil?

altCES1.jpgMark F. posted an interesting piece on Boing Boing, skeptical of the RCA “Airnergy WiFi Hotspot Power Harvester,” a device that can allegedly charge its internal battery via Wi-Fi radio signals. They definitely get endless demerits for a groaningly-bad product name. How can you say “Airnergy” without choking on your own bile?

Mark quotes from a piece on OhGizmo!

From OhGizmo!:

The Airnergy has a battery inside it, so you can just carry it around and as long as you’re near some WiFi, it charges itself. Unlike a solar charger, it works at night and you can keep it in your pocket. Of course, proximity to the WiFi source and the number of WiFi sources is important, but at the rate it charges, if you have a home wireless network you could probably just leave anywhere in your house overnight and it would be pretty close to full in the morning.

A commenter on OhGizmo! offers the following:

Here’s some math. Long story short, by my calculations, 100% efficiency and absorption at 5 feet away from a 100mW home router, (reasonable figures), it would take 34.5 years to charge that blackberry battery.

It’s not a Dyson Sphere, so you only get the power that hits the antenna.

Surface of a sphere = 4pir^2, r = 60″ (5 feet).

Surface area of a 5′ sphere = 45,216 square inches.

The device appears about 2″ x 3″ = 6 square inches.

The device then picks up, best case, 0.000133 of the power out from the router, which is 100mW, so.. 0.0133mW

If you leave it there for 24 hours, 0.0318 mWh are stored.

According to Will’s battery, it has ~4,000 mWh capacity.

So, it would take 12,579 days, or 34.5 years, to charge your blackberry battery once, presuming 100% absorption, no losses.

RCA’s Wifi “power harvester”

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Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. His free weekly-ish maker tips newsletter can be found at

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