Wi-Charge: Long Range Wireless Charging Coming to Your Smart Home
How many rechargeable or battery-driven devices float around your home? If you have a secure smart home, it’s likely a two digit number. Consequently, long-range wireless charging could banish a great number of cables, chargers, or batteries from your household.
AT CES 2020, Wi-Charge is presenting the PowerPuck, a long-range wireless charger that plugs into a wall outlet or screws into a lightbulb socket. Using Wi-Charge’s AirCord technology, it can charge compatible smart or IoT devices wirelessly from distances of up to 30 feet (ca. 9 meters). We gave this product a spin on the show floor.
The biggest upside of long-range wireless charging is that it eliminates the need replace batteries or handle various chargers and power cords. Charging would also happen automatically, whenever your device is in range of a suitable charger. And you would only need to install a single wireless charger to feed several devices at once.
The installation could hardly be easier. Wi-Charge provides adapters to make its PowerPuck compatible with light and wall sockets. Next, you don’t have to pair the charger with receiving devices. It automatically locates compatible receivers and initiates power transfer.
Each PowerPuck can recognize and charge an unlimited number of devices, but only three at a time. Devices can request a charge and will disconnect independently once they’re fully charged. The power is transmitted through infrared light and each device receives 2 Watts. That’s not a lot of energy, but for a static device with low power usage it’s good enough.
While wireless charging would work with mobile phones or tablets, the usefulness of the technology for portable devices is limited by the avaialbility of compatible chargers. Until the infrastructure exists to wirelessly recharge your phone over the air at your local coffee shop, at work, or at school, we’re unlikely to go see this mainstream.
Meanwhile, it’s a great solution for recharging static devices, like your security camera or smoke detector. It can also power smart home devices. For example, Wi-Charge is collaborating with hansgrohe on their smart faucet.
Wi-Charge isn’t the only company offering distance wireless charging. Some of the competitors to the PowerPuck are Ossia’s Cota or Energous’ WattUp, which use radio frequency charging instead of infrared light. When we asked Wi-Charge about the difference, they quoted power, cost, and safety as the three main reasons for using infrared over other methods. That said, both methods are deemed safe for consumers.
Like its competitors, Wi-Charge is not aiming to sell directly to consumers, but you can expect to see this technology showing up in smart home devices more frequently soon.