The wireless charging that we see and use today is pretty disappointing in essence.
It works on the inductive principle. Think of how an induction oven placed on an induction cooktop gets heat while the surrounding area remains cool.
Electricity is transferred by induction to devices sporting inductive coils inside and the battery gets completely charged that way.
But that kind of charging comes with a huge drawback. You don’t use cables but you never far from cables in a sense. The device has to be constantly in touch with the wireless chargepod, and the chargepod needs to be always carried about and around.
Energous and Ossia, two companies working in this space are seeking to bring that to an end.
They’re working on true wireless charging that can enable charging devices from a distance.
The standards brought about by these two companies are pretty close to achieving true wireless charging that can charge devices from a distance.
Nikola Tesla originally envisioned such charging hundreds of years ago.
Energous uses its proprietary technology that consists of a Wattup transmitter and receiver which converts ac power to radio frequency and the receiver turns it back to dc voltage to power up battery using devices.
Beamfrogging technology is employed in transmission so that even if there are walls, and other obstacles, the signal can bounce off and still make its way through to the 900Mhz receiver.
There are three kinds of wireless charging possibilities: near field, mid field and far field.
WattUp near charging works by plugging or embedding itself into laptops, cellphones and other devices.
It can output 10w of power and charge mobile phones and even other devices in the vicinity.
FCC rules have an upper limit on the distance that wireless chargers should work and the device is approved by FCC’s regulations on the same. So the near field transmitter can transmit charge up to a distance of 2 to 3 cm.
The mid-field transmitter is also certified under FCC rules and can transmit to a range of 2 to 3 feet.
Far field really puts the truth into wireless current transmission and transmits electricity to the longest possible distance of 15 feet.
The transmitter not only charges devices but comes with a software portal for power management too letting you decide which devices have access to power.
Since it acts like a wireless router it’s well-nigh possible that neighbours and street-goers may find unauthorized access to power which can be undone by using the portal to control access.
Mid-field and near-field devices both allow you to set device charging priorities.
The short range transmitter owing to the limitation of the number of devices that can be connected doesn’t offer many options.
Just that when the device is near the charging pad you get to see how low long it’d take to charge it completely.
The transmitter for the far and mid range fields intelligently determines through Bluetooth which devices are nearby and which ones are authorized for power by the power management suite.
The rules stipulate that at a time only 1 milli watt of power can be sent out so as to not pose any danger to human beings nearby. And at a distance of 15 feet, bumping of walls and air the power never remains 1 milli watt but goes lower.
As the use of these transmitters becomes more and more common you will start seeing wireless charging everywhere and probably the extinction of wall outlets that we now have in excess.
Compared to Energous which has kept its focus entirely on the domestic segment, Ossia wants to capture a broader and much bigger market.
Ossia’s spectrum like Energous runs on the 2400 Ghz spectrum.
The transmitters send a low power beacon to Ossia’s Cota Power Transmitter.
This beacon signals the Cota transmitter to transmit power along the pathway that was used to get the signal.
This transmitter then sends signals to multiple devices that are Cota-enabled thus effectively disbursing power. Because of the high powered signal, the signal can effectively work its way around objects and buildings and not lose any significant signal strength.
There are two prototype devices currently in use the first one being Cota Forever battery and the second Cota tile.
Cota Tile’s a transmitter that can transmit signals to Cota enabled devices nearby.
And for devices at a distance, the signals are sent in milliwatts.
Instead of sending high power that gets limited to just one or two devices, Ossia specializes sending power to innumerable devices through its network.
The degree of power reduces with the distance travelled but ultimately everyone gets access to power.
The Cota networks uses the proprietary Cota cloud that assigns priority and distributes power by assigned priority to devices. The way the Tile works is by charging devices that are low on power first and then moving on to other devices.
The Cota transmitter doesn’t have to operate in line of sight hence there’s no particular inhibition to charging many devices. The warehouse has hundreds of Cota tiles that can be joined or aligned together to power devices.
Since its based on 2.4 GHz which is the same band on which wireless technology runs there’s no update to existing infrastructure required to get the signal going and charging.
Ossia also turns existing devices to smart devices. If a device draws more power than what it usually does there’s high probability that the system’s malfunctioning and you will be reported about the error.
The key tenet why these technologies are so powerful is that the intelligent software behind them ensures that power transference evolves into something more than movement of electrons from one point to another.
The use of these devices could extend beyond the simple capabilities of charging a phone or laptop and could also recharge devices like hearing aid batteries or power up the pacemaker when running low. The transmitters could also automatically recognize when your device is out of juice and automatically start charging the battery. So you don’t have to remember to plug it in.
Are these radio beams that are capable of transferring power safe to use?
The technology is safe for human beings and living things around them since power is transmitted as radio waves and not as inductive waves. Inductive coils and waves raise the heat around you. But radio waves such as these don’t and are hence perfectly safe.
The efficiency of true wireless technology like any other technology will improve as the years go by and we will witness as much efficiency as wired charging.
Think of the initial days of wireless broadband and you will get where I’m going with this.
The technologies deployed at present are Qi and PMI.
Both stipulate that the devices be placed atop charging pads that inductively conducts current through them.
And they’re terribly slow at charging devices.
The reason being that if they transfer charge quickly the devices and internal circuitry and boards will heat up. Even now charging devices are designed carefully to keep heat away from operational amplifiers and other components that experience drift (lowering of efficiency) when temperature rises above a certain point.
With charging pads the heat sinks have to effectively planned to reduce the touchpoints even further so as to not risk lowered efficiency.
Even all design considerations employed it isn’t possible to get to a point where the devices are charged quickly without compromising on stability and that’s why wireless charging as deployed by Energous are the future.
What do you think?