By Maurizio Di Paolo Emilio
LAS VEGAS — Wi-Charge was at the Consumer Electronics Show to demonstrate its AirCord Technology for long-range wireless power transmission.
Wi-Charge’s patented light-based wireless power supply technology provides a remote power solution for smart home wireless devices, supporting 24/7 operation with increased functionality. PowerPuck (R1) is the latest solution of Wi-Charge; it is a compact long-range wireless charger for smart and IoT devices built with Wi-Charge’s AirCord technology. The charger plugs into a wall outlet or screws into a lightbulb socket, and powers compatible devices wirelessly from distances up to 30 feet.
Battery-powered devices are portable, but battery capacity limits functionality, and users hate to replace batteries. Power cables provide a lot of power, but the devices are thus tethered to an outlet. According to a 2018 survey by Parks Associates, longer battery life is the most desirable feature for smart home devices.
Wi-Charge’s technology efficiently delivers 100 times the power of batteries, remotely, but offers the convenience of wireless portability and complies with UL, US FDA, and international standards. The increase in the number of smart devices means that wired battery replacement and charging is becoming an impractical and significant concern.
iPropertyManagement estimates that there will soon be over 26 billion IoT devices currently implemented and predicts a three-fold increase by 2025. Suppliers are trying to improve the performance and functionality of IoT devices, but limited battery life slows these efforts.
Facility managers are turning to long-range wireless power to reduce device downtime, eliminate the cost and effort of battery replacement, and reduce the environmental impact of battery disposal.
Developing a wireless power delivery system requires years of research and study to finalize best the source to use. It is important to initially consider various sources such as magnetic fields, radio-frequency waves, ultrasound, and of course, light. The parent company has carried out numerous studies and found that light offers the best combination of power, distance, efficiency, and safety (Table 1).
|Infrared light||Radio Frequency Waves|
|Power||Up to several watts||Small number of milliwatts while remaining within safety limits|
|How power changes with distance||Nearly constant power regardless at distance||Power significantly diminishes with the square of the distance|
|Energy efficiency||High efficiency. In the Wi-Charge system, 100% of the transmitted energy reaches the receiver||Because of the physical properties of RF, only a small portion of transmitted power reaches the receiver.|
|Safety||UL, FDA and IEC approval for the Wi-Charge system. Certified consumer device.||Regulatory approval currently available only for micro-power systems. Excess RF radiation baths the environment.|
|Potential interference||Does not impact cellular, WiFi, Bluetooth or other communication networks||Potentially interferes with Wi-Fi, cordless and cellular communications|
|Type of energy||Natural light. IR is nature’s preferred way of energy delivery.||Man-made radiation. Living organisms are not accustomed to it.|
Table 1: Comparing light and radiofrequency radiation as possible sources for wireless charging technology [Source: Wi-Charge].
Power is delivered with millimeter precision using safe, focused, and invisible rays of light. The transmitter uses the standard power supply and can cover about 25 square meters, while the various receivers include a small photovoltaic cell (essentially a small solar cell) to convert the light received into abundant usable electricity.
The receivers can be integrated into a device or connected to an existing charging port. The process of sending energy is fully automatic and safe and supports many simultaneous and moving devices. The technology requires no configuration and provides extensive coverage. Multiple transmitters can be combined to increase coverage and power. It does not interfere with cellular, WiFi, Bluetooth, or other communications, and also does not emit ionizing radiation (Figure 1).
The shortest distance between the receiver and transmitter is a straight line. A path that includes a reflection is longer, thus significantly reducing the energy. For some technologies, power is significantly reduced with distance due to air absorption and reflections. For these technologies, it is particularly essential to achieve straight-line transmission between transmitter and receiver. For Wi-Charge, safety is crucial, which is why the line of sight parameter is also crucial (figure 2). AirCord uses the line-of-sight to offer maximum transmission efficiency, ensuring that all power goes to the transmitter.
Powered by Wi-Charge’s AirCord infrared beam technology, the device requires no configuration, calibration, or tuning — making it the first plug-and-play wireless power solution for smart devices.
It can transform a standard home into a wirelessly-powered smart home, or help convert a commercial building into a smart building. The R1 is slightly larger than a Nest Thermostat and is easy to install in a variety of ways. For example, an Edison screw adapter makes it compatible with numerous light fixtures, and a socket adapter allows the R1 to plug directly into a standard wall outlet (figure 3). The receivers can be as small as 0.5 x 0.5 inches and are typically embedded in the charged devices themselves. The PowerPuck showed at CES 2020 and is slated to begin shipping in 2020 and become readily available at that time.
Inside a vehicle, charging cables are not cheap and also pose a safety risk. In addition to mobile devices, you may also need to power sensors (such as rear seat belt sensors), and their wiring is expensive. Wi-Charge helps to solve this problem by installing a power transmitter near the vehicle’s interior light, thus providing enough energy to charge devices and sensors.
The Wi-Charge solutions power smartphones anywhere in the office. Ceiling-mounted transmitters provide power for all devices safely placed on a table. An intelligent application is a lock for opening and closing doors. Unlike old mechanical locks, intelligent locks add new functionalities. Some locks include an electronic keypad. Others allow you to control the lock from your phone via Bluetooth or WiFi. Some locks include bio-metric security, such as fingerprints. Others add cameras with facial recognition. Design issues are, as always, power and power management issues. In particular, power consumption and battery life.
Power consumption limits the functions that can be added to the system. Battery life is an issue for consumers. If you forget to replace batteries, you may find yourself locked out of your home. By integrating a wireless receiver into the lock, charging and maintaining power may no longer be an issue. The lock gets all the power it needs to enable new features such as video recording without ever replacing the batteries. Wireless charging eliminates the trade-off between functionality and battery life.
The long-range wireless power supply by Infrared Light allows you to freely deliver power without the need for cables. With wireless power, batteries never need to be replaced or wired to a charger.