In the age of smartphones and other wireless technology, you can forget the wires and cables necessary to charge our devices. We are now in the age of wireless charging technology. But, if you’re like me, you probably hate the thought of having wires and cables running all over your room. Having wireless charging technology to increase the life cycle of your device is the new era.
We as consumers love and appreciate convenience. But, most importantly, we demand it. When it comes to understanding how wireless power technology works, there’s much we don’t understand. I turned to The Harrington Group to see what was on their investment radar. After speaking with its CEO, Kevin Harrington, he directed me to PowerSphyr. I spoke with Neil Ganz, CEO and Chairman of PowerSphyr and Jim Hughes, Founder of QS Strategies.
The Birth of Wireless Power Technology
Did you know that wireless power technology has been around since the early 1890’s? Nikola Tesla first envisioned a wireless power transmission system, eventually leading to Michael Faraday’s Law of Electromagnetic Induction.
If you’ve been to Consumer Electronic Show (CES), you know the feeling of watching your phone’s battery power drain over the course of the day. Text by text, stream by stream, tweet by tweet. Until finally, you’re left scrambling for a battery pack or wall outlet.
According to Ganz, the biggest challenge when it comes to this technology is that the average consumer doesn’t understand what wireless power is. “Since Samsung and Apple have released what they call ‘magnetic induction,’ consumers look at it and realize that it doesn’t really do much for them,” explained Ganz.
“When we are releasing our technology, educating the public has become our primary task. We want people to understand that there are different styles of wireless power out there.”
How Does My Smartphone Wirelessly Charge?
Whether you realize it or not, the wireless charging we have grown accustomed to through Apple and Android’s integrations, utilizes induction.
Faraday’s Law of Electromagnetic Induction
Originally discovered by Michael Faraday in the 1830’s, “electromagnetic induction” is the production of electromagnetic currents in a conductor as it moves through a magnetic field. Known as Faraday’s Law of Electromagnetic Induction, this utilizes only the force of a magnetic field, not a battery.
How Does Your Smartphone Charge Wirelessly?
So, taking your device and placing it onto a wireless charging pad or plate, there is a coil of wire inside that plate with a current running through it. The now AC-current is constantly changing its flowing directions. The ever-changing electromagnetic field of the charging plate interacts with the device’s inbuilt coil, converting it into a DC-current. Thus, your battery then begins charging.
Resonant wireless charging addresses one of the major drawbacks inductive wireless charging brings: proximity. As previously mentioned, induction requires the coils to be closely coupled together. This requires the user to properly align the device with the pad. But, if it’s not situated right, it won’t charge.
With magnetic resonance, energy is tunneled from one coil to the other, rather than being channeled in multiple directions. Like all technologies, this is also limited by consumer demand.
Radio Frequency Harvesting
Radio frequency (RF) wireless charging technology utilizes radio frequencies to charge a device. Rather than induced magnetic fields, RF technology utilizes electromagnetic waves. The best example is how your Wi-Fi router transmits wireless signals to your wireless devices.
Here, you have radio frequencies transmitting energy from a wireless charger to a receiver within a similar device. This energy is then converted into electricity, becoming the power source for your device.
Unlike induction, RF doesn’t require precise alignment in order to charge. But, there are still misconceptions as to its potential. Ganz told me that the biggest misnomer in the space is the distance it reaches and time it takes to fully charge a device.
“The idea that someone could walk into their kitchen, and through a radio frequency signal, have their phone just begin to wirelessly charge, is a huge misnomer,” said Ganz. “It would take almost 1500 hours for that phone to be powered legally, because the FCC limits how much radio frequency is transmitted over the air.”
According to the CEO, this is why PowerSphyr believes it needs to become the expert in all three types of systems. “We now look at everyone’s products and ask what would make the easiest solution for their customers customer. What would make their product work easier, faster, and more efficiently?”
But, What’s Wrong With My Mophie?
If you have a smart phone, you probably have come across or even use wireless chargers like Mophie’s Powerstation or Samsung’s Fast Charge. But, these products don’t represent true wireless charging technology.
Distinguishing “Qi” From “PMA”
The wireless charging industry is in the middle of a standards war, as between the Wireless Power Consortium’s Qi (“Chee”) and Power Matter Alliance’s (PMA) standard. While both are based on induction charging, the wavelength used differs. Qi works on a 100-205kHz band, while PMA works on the 277-355kHz band.
At the end of the day, the consumer is the driving factor in who will come out on top. But, each technology comes with its own limitations. With induction charging, the major drawback is proximity. The distance required as between the device and the charging pad, as well as proper alignment of the induction coils. Otherwise, power is unable to transmit to the device.
Charging Up With IBM Watson’s Bill Lombardi
Most recently, Bill Lombardi officially joined the team as CIO, coming from the IBM Watson AI Global Center of Competence. Lombardi brings over 25 years-worth of experience in the consumer, automotive, finance, insurance, healthcare, and industrial manufacturing industries.
Utilizing The Wattage of Kevin Harrington Enterprises
Back in July, Kevin Harrington Enterprises (KH Enterprises) partnered up with PowerSphyr, leveraging its e-Retailing, social media, and B2C TV distribution platforms to help accelerate the company’s growth. According to Ganz, Kevin and his team have the insight and connections required to rapidly accelerate consumer sales growth.
PowerSphyr is utilizing the power behind its partnerships with companies like KH Enterprises, to give consumers a better understanding as to how to utilize its technology.
“Our system will power your device. By partnering with companies for chip distribution, we run the back-end design, while our partner’s do the actual distributions,” said Ganz. “Right now, our system powers your phone that has our battery sleeve on it, but the goal is that future phones won’t need that sleeve. Eventually, your devices will adapt and understand what is powering them. Don’t charge me at 20-watt voltage, because you’ll blow me up. Instead, charge me at 7-watts.”
Diversifying The Charge
While in the battery business, PowerSphyr has extended its reach to other industries, including the automotive and hearing aid markets.
The CEO recently told me they are working with Motorola to better assist the police and fire departments with their radio systems. Currently, officers and firefighters find themselves in life-threatening situations with limited communication capabilities. Well, no more.
“At the end of the day, the technology is hard to use,” Hughes acknowledged. “What PowerSphyr is doing is going with backwards computability, and moving forward with newer technologies like resonance and RF. This allows for flexibility and getting the right technology to the right device. “We aren’t playing one against the other.”
“Why is Tesla so valued right now? Because it’s a computer on wheels. It’s all about the data they gather. Consumers will start demanding this capability. The world is going to wireless power, but the question is whether you can deliver something that fits the requirements needed?”