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PowerbyProxi’s vision for the future of wireless charging

March 22, 2017 / 0 Comments / 21 /

By Tao Lin

Imagine a world where you would be able to charge your phone, laptop or tablet wirelessly, doing away with chargers and cables forever.

That is a world that Auckland entrepreneur Fady Mishriki​ wants and has been working towards for the past nine years.

Mishriki founded PowerbyProxi and has developed a range of wireless charging products, from the heavy duty to those made for smartphones.

The company had 360 patents and recorded on March 31, 2016 a 781 per cent growth in revenue on the year before.

Now with 55 staff and offices in Auckland and the United States, PowerbyProxi’s goal was simple: to allow people to power everyday devices without having to plug them in.

PowerbyProxi founder Fady Mishriki wants to make wireless charging as easy as wifi is now to access.

It has been a long time since batteries had an upgrade and battery life was not keeping up with energy demands of today’s products, Mishriki said.

The vision was to make it as easy for people to charge their phones or tablets as it was to access wifi.

Mishriki said that reality was about 10 years away and was already starting to happen, with some Ikea furniture made with wireless transmitters built into their surfaces.

“Today we don’t think about wi-fi. We don’t think about carrying [an ethernet] cable with us to plug our laptop into the wall anymore. That’s why manufacturers can completely drop ports from their devices now.

“Wireless power is trending in that direction.”

Innovation for PowerbyProxi was about making wireless power seamless for the end user.

One challenge the company faced was the sensitive nature of the technology: previous wireless charging technology required the device to be placed in an exact position otherwise it would stop charging.

Another issue was the super slow charging speed. Mishriki said it took about three times longer to charge than if it was charged normally.

PowerbyProxi’s “Proxi 2D” product allowed devices to be charged regardless of alignment, more than one device could be charged and it charged just as quickly as a wired charger.

“One of our values is we are innovators, not just inventors. Innovation is about taking [inventions] to market,” Mishriki said.

The Fairfax Media business innovation series runs in partnership with Callaghan Innovation.

 – Stuff

Untangling Wireless Charging

December 8, 2016 / 0 Comments / 208 /

An Attempt to Clarify Terms and Standards

by Bryon Moyer

So I saw an announcement or two about wireless power and thought it might be time to do an update. But as I looked around and spoke with various people, I have to say… I found myself increasingly unsure and confused. A lot has happened since we last dealt with this part of the industry, and things that seemed clear once upon a time no longer seem so.

So rather than doing an update, I think we need a clarifier. In the world of wireless power, there are multiple “standards,” multiple standards bodies, several approaches available, and numerous commercial players – some of which don’t limit themselves to standardized techniques.

As a quick review: a couple of years ago, there was also plenty of reason for confusion – because there were three standards bodies vying for primacy: the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC), the Power Matters Alliance (PMA), and the Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP). Since then, there has been some nominal simplification (mostly in name only) whereby the PMA and A4WP organizations merged into a single group, rebranding itself as the AirFuel Alliance.

You’d think that would have reconciled some of the competing standards… but alas, no. Before the merger, the PMA had an approach and the A4WP had an approach. After the merger? Both approaches are still supported. So, with all that effort, nothing has really changed except the logos and the color scheme.

Meanwhile, the WPC continues on with Qi, the oldest and most pervasive technology. When we last talked, they were working on a “resonant” (more on the terminology in a moment) version of Qi. But since then, the folks they have lined up to put chargers into their shops and cafes have told them that they’re not interested in investing in new infrastructure, so the WPC has backed off the new version. The Qi 1.2 spec includes the resonant stuff (among other things); it was released last June, and folks are designing with it, but it doesn’t feel like a priority for the WPC.

The other side of that argument is that consumers themselves want better positioning flexibility than Qi allows. This is one of those things where it’s not exactly clear who the customer is, since it’s really the Starbuckses of the world that are buying the chargers for their stores. Are they going to listen to customer complaints after spending all that money? Probably not now – because I’d bet most consumers aren’t complaining, since they’re not used to even being able to have a public phone charging capability, and they probably don’t know there are other options.

If other companies choose an alternative that is less restrictive, and, if consumers like that, then they might come back in and voice a preference. Would that keep them from going to Starbucks? Not clear. And if not, Starbucks (or whoever) would still have little reason to change. So “consumer preference” may or may not win the day.

I’ve been madly trying to put these various approaches into buckets according to some critical characteristics. Before assigning names to buckets, let’s review some of the criteria that distinguish these standards.

Wireless power characteristics

The following are some critical characteristics, mostly binary in that you get two choices, along with no lack of reasons why one of them (pick which one) is best. Let’s try to tease out the nuances.

Inductive vs. Resonant: This is the original differentiator. It’s what was different when I first talked to WiTricity, and my coverage at the time dug into the difference. Qi was inductive; the new system from WiTricity was resonant. These days, however, the usage of the terms has become very confusing. You may even hear someone say, “In reality, they’re all resonant.” Great! What does that even mean?

I have to give credit to Semtech’s Ken Moore for patiently digging into the nuance with me. I’m going to try to lay it out here as best I can. All of the approaches involve two loops: a transmitter and a receiver. The so-called “inductive” approaches place those loops in close proximity so that one can couple to the other.

In my original discussions some years ago, these systems were described as involving inductance only, since mutual inductance was the main mechanism. But, apparently, that’s not really accurate; all of the systems involve an LC tank that oscillates.

Here’s the key, however: at what frequency does the transmitter oscillate with respect to the receiver’s resonant frequency? The “inductive” systems specifically tune the transmitter away from that frequency. For example, in Qi systems, the resonant frequency is 100 kHz. But if you transmitted at that frequency, up so close to the receiver, you’d get enormous power and heat – so much so that it would be a safety problem. It’s like when an earthquake comes, and the s-waves happen to hit a building’s resonant frequency. It’s not pretty.

So Qi transmitters are typically tuned to anywhere from 100 – 205 MHz.  And they have a shut-down feature that kicks in if it detects too much power.

The “resonant” approach specifically tunes the transmitter at precisely the receiver resonant frequency. Why doesn’t this burn the thing up? First of all, it’s intended to support devices placed farther away. The resonance means that it can reach farther. But what if you put it too close?

Another parameter that affects coupling is the relative size of the loops. If they’re the same size, you get higher coupling. If, as in the case of the “resonant” modes, the transmitter loop is much larger than the receiver loop (think 8” charging mat vs. little phone), then the coupling is reduced. So you get this tradeoff of distance vs. coupling. “Inductive” systems tend to have on the order of 70% end-to-end efficiency; resonant systems can be anywhere in the 20% – 60%/70% range, depending on distance.

The Qi “resonant” mode provides an interesting example. What happens there is that you’re allowed to tune to the 100 kHz frequency. But every device starts out in “inductive” mode, and then, if both ends can support resonance (as determined by a handshake), you move into resonant mode. This provides backwards compatibility as well as the assurance that you don’t accidentally turn a charging device into a space heater.

So that’s the reason why many folks don’t like the names “inductive” and “resonant.” Nonetheless, the terms persist even in the names of some of the protocols.

Closely vs. Loosely Coupled: Instead of inductive/resonant, many folks prefer to distinguish the protocols by how closely the transmitter and receiver are coupled. Approaches like Qi (the original) require millimeter proximity, which is why you have a cradle that holds the device precisely in place. Loose coupling is generally a feature of “resonant” systems, and they’re more forgiving about distance – both laterally and in the Z direction. The idea here is that you can mount the charger under a table and charge devices laid on the table, for instance.

Frequency: This is a big fight. Qi operates at low frequencies – in the 100-200 kHz range. The WiTricity approach uses, instead, a high frequency – just under 7 MHz. Each says it’s better than the other. One challenge with low frequency is that metal objects like coins or keys in close proximity can overheat, although safety cutoffs detect the presence of too much power and shut off the charger to avoid an incident such as someone grabbing a coin for a toll booth and depositing some choice words at the same time. (I know… coins in a toll booth… how quaint and archaic…) The higher frequency doesn’t have that issue (although, theoretically, it could heat up the thin foil in a DVD…). But there’s talk of interference and… well, my guess is that they can both be made to work just fine. The real driving factor here is the legacy of Qi, which already has a position in the market. That said, dual- and even tri-mode approaches are available – more on those in a moment.

Silicon CMOS vs. … GaN?: One knock-on consideration based on frequency is the material used for the ASICs. Silicon does fine for low frequencies, but it becomes inefficient at high frequencies. Other materials, like GaN and SiC might be more appropriate as the frequency goes up. Which may have cost implications. No one has said, “Yes, we need to use these,” but there seems to be agreement that yes, they may choose a high-bandgap material. Everyone is coy…

Single- vs. Multi-Coil: We’ve seen approaches that use multiple small coils in a mat; they can detect where a phone is above it and energize only the coils at that spot. Apparently, this works better for lower frequencies; the high-frequency folks are sticking with a single coil. There are questions of efficiency (related to the above discussion), but I’m not really sure that this particular characteristic is that important (so I won’t be including it below – it’s a feature of a specific system implementation of a standard, not the standard itself).

In-Band vs. Side-Band Communication: All of the approaches include a communication channel so that the device being charged can negotiate with the charger. Qi uses an in-band channel, while the high-frequency folks use Bluetooth. Phones have Bluetooth, so that shouldn’t be an issue, right? Well… what if the phone is completely out of power and you want to charge it. Except… because it’s dead, the Bluetooth isn’t working, so it can’t talk to the charger, so it won’t charge? One solution is to have a second Bluetooth radio that’s still alive when the phone is dead. (I’m assuming that the charger itself would power that radio…). That’s more expense and complexity. And yet, again with the coyness, no one is saying outright that, yes, they need a second radio – maybe it’s not needed.

Filling the buckets

So, with that in place, let’s try to sort out which standard goes into which bucket.

Wireless_Power_table.png

By the way, according to Semtech, Samsung has a fast-charge “dialect” of Qi, and Apple is also dabbling – their watch has an inductive-like charging feature.

And in other news…

The whole reason for paying attention to this was the number of recent announcements in this space. It’s just hard to digest them until you get the whole industry sorted. Now that we’ve done that (hopefully), what’s new?

WiTricity and ST: These two companies announced that they’ll be working together on AirFuel implementations.

Semtech wireless charging platforms: Semtech may be better known, in Internet of Things circles, as the driving force behind the LoRa low-power, wide-area communication standard. But they acquired Triune Systems early in 2015 and are creating dual-mode and tri-mode chips that will support multiple standards. The dual-mode supports Qi 1.2 and AirFuel Inductive; the tri-mode (announced just over a year ago) adds AirFuel Resonant. There’s a catch, here: Qi 1.2, in addition to specifying resonance, also increased the inductive power from 5 to 15 W. So the Qi 1.2 that Semtech supports in their multi-mode chips is the 15-W version of inductive. They don’t support Qi resonant (because they’ve had no requests for that). They do support the Samsung fast-charging variant.

There is some added cost for adding resonant support in the tri-mode chip; that adder is likely in the 20%-30% range.

PowerByProxi modules: Just in case the situation is becoming clearer in your mind, here’s an angle that doesn’t follow any of the standards. PowerByProxi definitely sees those standards as useful for consumer equipment, where charging infrastructure will be set up all over the place. But, for industrial installations, they don’t see standards as important, since each project is custom. So they use their own proprietary technology. They recently introduced wireless charging modules for industrial use; they aren’t in any of the above buckets. (OK, they might share some characteristics, but we’re not privy to them). Significantly, they claim maximum end-to-end efficiency of 91%, delivering up to 100 W. Higher-power versions are in the pipeline.

Proxi-Module platform provides wireless power, up to 100W

November 22, 2016 / 0 Comments / 173 /

Proxi-Module platform provides wireless power, up to 100W

PowerbyProxi, developer of the world’s safest and most advanced wireless power solutions, has created the world’s first modular wireless power system – set to be unveiled at SPS Drives this week (of Nov 22) in Nuremburg, Germany.

The Proxi-Module platform is the first of its kind – a modular and configurable system enabling customers to adapt and integrate wireless power effortlessly into their products.

It achieves the highest power density of any solution on the market, with a maximum end-to-end efficiency of 91%. Its innovative design and unprecedented performance reduces power and heat losses. It also offers advanced Foreign Object Detection (FOD) for increased safety, Dynamic Pairing for instant and automatic connector mating and Proxi-Com (optional) for all commonly used data communication protocols.

“The Proxi-Module is going to transform the wireless power industry,” said Fady Mishriki, CEO of PowerbyProxi. “In the past wireless power solutions were limited by their inflexibility as bespoke products. What worked for one application was seldom a direct fit for another.”

“Our goal was to increase the accessibility of wireless power for our customers by delivering a solution with superior adaptability, flexibility and ease of integration. All at a very compelling price. Now, with so many configuration options on offer and many more in the pipeline, customers can easily tailor wireless power for their specific needs,” said Mishriki.

The Proxi-Module is CE and RoHS certified and FCC compliant, enabling customers to quickly implement wireless power into their products without any added uncertainty and cost.

“We have already delivered a number of pre-production units to selected customers, across a wide range of applications with different power/size and performance requirements. The feedback to date has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Mishriki.

The Proxi-Module is initially being released for power transfer up to 100 W, with future higher power versions and new configuration options already in the pipeline.  This solution joins PowerbyProxi’s existing portfolio of turnkey products offering safe, reliable power transfer from 1 watt to 1 kilowatt, but at a significantly lower cost.

Technical specifications and information on purchasing the Proxi-Module system are available on the PowerbyProxi website, or by contacting PowerbyProxi directly.

About PowerbyProxi: Building on over a decade of ground breaking research PowerbyProxi was founded in 2007 as a spin-out of the University of Auckland’s world leading wireless power center of excellence. We design and develop safe, high efficiency and high density wireless power technology. For more: www.powerbyproxi.com

PowerbyProxi enables wireless power

September 12, 2016 / 0 Comments / 510 /

In 1894, Nikola Tesla used resonant inductive coupling to wirelessly light up phosphorescent and incandescent lamps. Now an Auckland company is taking the concept to new levels, as Joe Young reports.

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Engineers, instrumentation technicians and electricians often have to find the best way of transmitting electrical signals, charging energy or motive power between two points.

One solution is to simply run a power cable between the points. However, complexities arise when machinery or appliances have moving parts that separate or rotate while in use, when components are exposed to harsh environmental conditions, or when working in tight spaces or with thick obstructing materials.

These complexities could be the downfall of conventional wired systems and mechanical slip ring solutions. The cables can wear relatively quickly or can be easily damaged if connected to a moving part –  likewise with mechanical slip rings and their brush contacts.

If the surrounding environment is wet or dirty the connections can soon be compromised and will break down.

However, these connection inefficiencies and areas of unreliability are elegantly overcome through wireless power connection systems being developed by the New Zealand based company PowerbyProxi.

Aussies sometimes regard New Zealand as a younger under-achieving sibling, but the company based across the ditch is quickly becoming known as a world leader in wireless power innovation.

In 1995, professors John Boy and Grant Covic of the University of Auckland developed connectors that use resonant inductive coupling to transfer relatively large amounts of energy across small air gaps (or across any non-metallic/non-conductive gap of solid, liquid or gas).

PowerbyProxi was established in 2007 in a bid to commercialise this technology.

After gaining tens of millions of dollars from investors, the company developed a range of industrial wireless connector components ranging in power transmission from 12W to 240W.

PowerbyProxi also develops inductive slip rings to allow connection across rotating machinery components.

Using wireless connectors provides numerous advantages over standard cable connections and mechanical slip rings in a wide range of industrial applications. These connectors increase reliability, minimise downtime and reduce maintenance and repairs at connection points.

Mark Flickinger is director of customer applications at PowerbyProxi. He says the ability to be hermetically sealed and the IP67 rating (resistant to dust and water) make these connectors ideal for obscure and harsh environments.

“If you need to do connections underwater or in dirty sites, or even if you need to make a connection in high-temperature metal environments, wireless power excels.”

PowerbyProxi spokesman William Pryde says the signage industry can also benefit.

“When providing power to signage in difficult locations, wireless connecters can eliminate the drilling of holes through obstructing materials for cable feeds.”

Sensors are present in many operating environments. However, they are generally small and placed inside or on moving equipment, so delivering power and data to them reliably is often challenging. The wireless connectors obviate many design constraints.

They are now sold all over the world, using converters to solve any voltage mismatch issues.

In the past five years wireless phone charging has taken off in a big way, which is reflected in the interest in the company’s consumer line.

PowerbyProxi has developed solutions in consumer electronics that include prototypes for wirelessly chargeable AA batteries and a 3D wireless power transmitter. To understand how the 3D transmitter works picture a box in which you simply place batteries, remotes and phones for charging, again using resonant inductive coupling.

Wireless power is relatively new, and people are still discovering how it can be used – and its full potential. The company aims to make the connectors more affordable so that more people can experiment with them for smaller applications.

William says there are many possibilities – automated charging of batteries for robotic vehicles or electric lift trucks, hermetically sealing and waterproofing delivery of power to marine sensors, transferring power to rotating machinery in forestry harvesters and flexible reconfiguration of LED lighting.

“We are continually gaining an understanding of how this technology can be used more extensively. It’s about getting information out there so people can think of different applications. There are endless opportunities.”

Dreaming of Power through the Air

May 11, 2016 / 0 Comments / 486 /

Every generation of engineers dreams about delivering power through the air. Tesla famously demonstrated it in 1891, using magnetic induction. Since then, many more people have attempted it and here are videos as evidence:

  • In 1975, NASA demonstrated long distance transport with magnetic induction at microwave frequencies.
  • In 2009, WiTricity demonstrated powering a television with magnetic induction.
  • In 2011, uBeam demonstrated power transfer with ultrasound.
  • In 2015, Energous demonstrated powering an iPhone at 5 meters using magnetic induction at microwave frequencies.

So far, none of these demos or concepts has led to a commercial product. What is it that makes it so hard to go from ‘proof of concept’ to a market-ready product? These videos that demonstrate desirable benefits include:

a) Transfer distance (= how far can I move the receiver away from the transmitter?)
b) Power level (=charging speed)
c) Spatial freedom (= how accurate do I need to position the receiver?)

These benefits can be described as the functional requirements of long distance wireless power transmission.

Interestingly, it’s the non-functional requirements that represent the biggest design hurdles to clear in getting to market-ready products. Examples of nonfunctional requirements — things that consumers rightfully take for granted — include safety, radio-frequency interference (RFI), power-transfer efficiency and cost.  These essential elements are ignored in the aforementioned demos or are addressed as challenge to be dealt with later during product development. Unfortunately, these non-functional requirements are the difficult and real problems that are harder to overcome than functional requirements. These non-functional design challenges are why this dream has continued to elude reality dating back to Tesla’s original experiments more than 100 years ago.

Let’s look at a few non-functional requirements of uncoupled wireless charging one by one:

Safety
Are you aware of the safety limits for human exposure to radio-frequency electromagnetic fields? Government regulations set limits on power levels that humans may be exposed to. The regulations are usually based on ICNIRP  tables of selective absorption rates. These regulations limit the maximum output power and, indirectly, limit the achievable transmission distance.

RFI
Electromagnetic fields generated by one product can interfere with other products. You don’t want a wireless charger in the room to interfere with a person’s pacemakers in the room. That’s an obvious risk, but it’s also relatively easy to deal with because pacemakers are well-protected against interference. Less obvious and more difficult to deal with is RFI with NFC receivers, Wi-Fi reception, mobile phone base stations and car electronics. The choice of operating frequency used for power transfer can help: choosing a higher frequency (such as 6.78MHz or 5 GHz) makes the problem harder.

Efficiency
Consumers don’t worry about efficiency, but governments and NGO’s do. Launching energy-wasting products can damage corporate brands. And energy-conscious regulators like the California Energy Commission may step in to limit the sale of a questionable product.
In the earlier YouTube videos the topic of efficiency were addressed. The NASA video claimed 82% efficiency. However, the 82% refers to the RF to DC conversion inside the receiver array. It doesn’t take into account the losses during transmission, and it doesn’t take into account the losses in the transmitter.

Misleading claims are common, and the presenters of this NASA video were sensitive about  efficiency’s significant challenges. The NASA video takes some liberties, but at least they explained how they measured the 82%. The actual numbers are 500 kW transmitted and 34 kW received. That is 7% efficient — and it doesn’t take losses inside the transmitter into account. It’s understandable why the NASA prefers to use the number 82.

A product that charges mobile devices at a mere 7% efficiency is not viable by today’s standards. Responsible suppliers should think twice about using this type of technology in their products, and regulators wouldn’t look favorably at these inefficient products.

Cost
Next, cost is clearly an important factor for mass market consumer products.  A wireless charging feature that costs $10 in additional components, manufacturing cost and license fees will result in very few phones actually incorporate this feature. A $999 wireless charger is a tough sell, especially if there are few receivers to charge. Products have to meet consumer-determined price points to achieve mass market adoption.

Critical Questions that must be posed about “Power through the Air”
When you get an offer to consider these far-field or “Power through the Air” technologies as a product developer or as an investor, there are several key questions that deserve substantiated answers, some include:

  1. Can you see the technical analysis of the RF exposure levels (ICNIRP guidelines) caused by the product for the proposed approach? If not, why?
  2. Will they let you measure their demo system for RFI and RF Exposure in an independent lab? What about efficiency, will they let you measure this independently?
  3. What are the safety, RFI and efficiency requirements of your own company?
  4. Can the technology you are considering meet your safety, RFI and efficiency requirements as well as the functional requirements? How does it do this?
  5. How are they measuring efficiency? Are they measuring it across a load range and range of X/Y/Z positions or just in one “sweet spot”? Do they know the absolute worst and best case efficiency a user will experience? If not, why not?
  6. Have you seen technical details and rigor showing this is possible (or just marketing hype, ‘slideware’ and cool demos?)
  7. What’s the price point that you need to achieve? Can you get a quote for components or products with pricing, volume, and delivery dates? Do they have a detailed roadmap for cost reduction?

Outlets such as Seeking Alpha and IEEE-Spectrum offer skeptical analysis and seek answers to the same questions above based on claims by some of these fledgling start-ups, and namely are digging deeper about the non-functional requirements: safety and efficiency.

Long distance power through the air is available in real products today – but only at ultra-low power levels
These unproven far-field attempts to charge mobile phones continue to garner a lot of attention by the press. However, industrial applications aren’t being acknowledged although they appear to be more realistic. Take the company Powercast, for example, which uses a 3 Watt transmitter to deliver microwatts through the air. The RF exposure level and frequency range is the same as a Wi-Fi base station. That looks viable. You will also notice the lack of outrageous efficiency claims. Efficiency is not an issue when you transmit only 3 Watt and deliver in microwatts. Another example, by IMEC provides power to sensors in an industrial application (farming in glass house), also at microwatt level.

Achieving mass market adoption with safe, efficient and cost-efficient wireless power technology
Power through the Air is possible today for industrial ultra-low power applications. Mobile device charging through the air will remain impossible for the foreseeable future – the non-functional requirements make it impossible.

Besides far-field approaches, loosely coupled 6.78MHz wireless power approaches remain in the demo phase with repeated, unfulfilled, promises* to achieve commercial, general availability. Mass-market introduction of loosely coupled 6.78MHz products continued to be delayed and pushed out. The reasons for these repeated delays have never been publicly disclosed, but one good guess is because of issues with the non-functional requirements.

Qi represents the ONLY wireless power technology that truly has moved from demo to mass market deployment in consumer commercially sold chargers. Today, between 50 and 100 million Qi chargers have been sold, with more than 150 million smartphones have a Qi receiver inside. The prime reasons for this is because Qi is proven to be safe, efficient, does not interfere with sensitive car electronics, and can be implemented at the right (low) price point.

Feel free to visit WPC member PowerbyProxi’s Ideation blog, where Fady Mishriki explores the topic of what key questions must be posed to suppliers.

* Articles from PocketLint and CNBC

What’s the big deal about Resonant?

September 16, 2015 / 0 Comments / 208 /

Fady Mishriki, Co-Founder, EVP and Chief Tesla Officer, 15/09/2015

Wireless power has made significant advancements in the last few years with many inductive technologies becoming mainstream and widely available – notably Qi and PowerMat products. Major players like Samsung are building wireless power receivers into their phones along with a huge number of transmitters widely available from companies like AirCharge, TYLT and of course Samsung themselves. Currently there are nearly 700 different products on the market that are Qi certified alone.   

However, inductive wireless charging is not without its limitations – amongst them include slower charging speed and the requirement for precise alignment of the receiver (smartphone) and transmitter (wireless charger). This is where resonant technology can deliver a number of advantages and truly represents the future for charging wirelessly. Unlike inductive technologies, there are still zero finalized resonant products in the marketplace. A4WP has long promised an option and now the Wireless Power Consortium is in the process of developing a resonant specification called Resonant Qi. I’ve been working on the specification personally along with other top member companies at the WPC. The new Resonant Qi specification will overcome existing limitations with Inductive Qi and provide those consumer benefits which OEMs are looking to integrate into their devices.

What’s most important?

The discussion on how inductive and resonant perform must be framed in respect to what is valued by the end user. Specifically, what are the factors that will increase the appeal of wireless charging for the consumer?

  • Speed: Is the technology able to charge at the same or better speed than current wired chargers?
  • Multiple devices: Are you able to charge multiple devices (and multiple types of devices) at the same time?
  • Efficiency: How much power being delivered from the source is actually getting through to the device and not being lost? Will it still work efficiently if it is integrated into the surfaces of furniture etc.?
  • Alignment (spatial freedom): Are you able to charge devices in multiple positions and orientations on the charger (X & Y axis)?  Or does it require precise alignment of the device?  How does it perform on the Z axis over greater height?
  • Power level: Can the technology charge a range of devices – including higher power devices (>10W)?
  • Design: Can it be integrated into devices through miniaturized receivers, without the need for charging cases or sleeves?
  • Safety:  Does the technology meet stringent industry guidelines i.e. 1998 and the 2009 ICNIRP (International Council on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection)?  Safety is determined  by how much radio frequency (RF) exposure can be applied without being harmful to human health.  
  • Interference: Will the technology affect the operation of the devices themselves, or peripheral devices and appliances?  Specifically, are the EMF and EMI below industry limits?
  • Interoperable: Will the technology be able to work with existing wireless charging solutions currently on the market?

Based on the above factors, how do inductive and resonant technologies stack up?

 

I have used examples of current inductive products that we find on the market today (Qi and PMA) to compare functionality and performance with the Resonant Qi specification, currently in the works – see Table 1 below:

Resonant comp

Overall, resonant presents a wireless charging future with greater convenience, performance and flexibility.  The main areas where we will see the greatest advantages are:

  • Faster charging – You can’t charge atwired speeds” if you are wasting energy as heat. Either you just won’t get enough power or you will cause you phone to overheat because you exceeded its thermal budget.  This is why, for example, when using the Galaxy S6’s wireless charger, the phone is charged approximately 1:30 hours slower than when I plug it into the wall (it takes 2:55 hours instead of 1:25 hours). A wired charger is 2.2x faster than the current inductive wireless charger. With Qualcomm’s wired quick charger technology and the new USB standard now available this is going to be even more important in the future.
  • Multi-device charging – Inductive systems can only charge one device at a time. Resonant systems can charge many devices simultaneously and at different power levels.  This makes it particularly useful for shared-use environments like table tops in the home or office.
  • Full Spatial freedom – For all three axis, x, y and z. One of the benefits of resonant technology is that it makes it really easy to drop and go, as well as charge through table tops or furniture. One of the biggest complaints about inductive charging is the requirement to precisely align the device. This is why inductive transmitters tend to have sticky rubber rings on their surface. This stops your device sliding off the charge when you bump your bedside table, for example.

Resonant Qi technology provides the next evolution to an already widely available set of products. It will provide a noticeable step-up in performance over the current inductive solutions, and will help wireless charging technology become more pervasive. Today, inductive solutions continue to be the only option for consumers wanting to purchase their own wireless charging system despite a lot of noise from other rival resonant standards. One has to ask why there are no (zero!) A4WP products shipping in the market to date.

The key for the WPC, and arguably the industry at large, will be to deliver a Resonant Qi specification that remains fully compatible with the hundreds of millions of existing Qi products on the market, while also delivering greater user performance over inductive systems. This approach puts the consumer first, and the best technologies always do.

This Kiwi company has the power to unplug all your electronic devices

May 25, 2015 / 0 Comments / 200 /

China is the biggest market for PowerbyProxi which has developed advanced wireless power systems.

PowerbyProxi

Have you ever imagined walking into a room and have your device instantly connect to power, just like it connects to the Internet? Unfortunately, this hasn’t happened yet.

It is believed that the concept of delivering power wirelessly is the stuff of science fiction – but when Fady Mishriki and Greg Cross founded PowerbyProxi in 2007, their focus was to unplug the last cable and get rid of masses of cables under desks and in planes, trains, and cars.

“Ever since the power plug was invented, every generation has plugged in more and more devices. PowerbyProxi is looking forward to help reduce our reliance on the power cable and deliver accessible, pervasive wireless power to the world,” explains Greg Cross, ‎Chairman and CEO at the New Zealand-based PowerbyProxi.

“With our Dynamic Harmonization Control (DHC) technology, we are delivering innovative resonant solutions, such as the Proxi-3D In-Device Charging System which will enable us to charge any type of device that has our receiver integrated into it by merely placing it within the box in any position or angle. It’s that simple and it’s our equivalent of the wifi modem,” Cross adds.

The company provides wireless power solutions for industrial markets and consumer products. Its technology stems from Wireless Power Technology (WPT) research from the University of Auckland, which is globally recognised in WPT research. In January 2014, it announced a major licensing deal with US-based Texas Instruments.

Power to unplug 

PowerbyProxi designs and supplies miniaturised resonant wireless power receivers to enable wireless charging of consumer electronic devices. The current resonant solutions include the miniaturisation of wireless receivers directly into smartphones (removing the need for external cases or sleeves) AA batteries, and wearable devices.

“Our wireless charging pad solution is the first resonant charging system capable of delivering up to 7.5 watts per receiver while also providing the ability to wirelessly power multiple devices simultaneously with full spatial freedom,” says Cross.  It enables wireless charging of multiple types of devices at the same speed as a wired charger. The devices can be placed in any location and orientation on the charging pad.

The Proxi-3D In-Device Charging transmitter enables recharging of many devices without having to remove batteries.  Users can simply place the device in the Proxi-3D charging box or bowl transmitter and the battery will begin charging. “It can be used with any device using a standard AA battery, or low-power wearable device. Devices can be placed in any orientation or position in the transmitter,” Cross says.

There have been ongoing advancements in wireless power technology with a range of companies operating in this space such as Powermat, Mojo Mobility, Mopar etc. But PowerbyProxi has a host of patented technologies and products to give a tough fight to competitors.

Strategic investment from Samsung

In September 2013, the Korean telecommunication giant Samsung made a strategic investment of US$4 million through its investment arm, Samsung Ventures Investment Corporation (SVIC) in PowerbyProxi. This investment marked Samsung’s entry in the wireless power industry where the Korean major signed a joint-development agreement with PowerbyProxi for wireless power technology.

The company has also raised US$5 million from TE Connectivity, and Movac, a New Zealand-based VC firm in 2013. It is currently raising its Series D round of funding upwards of US$20 million.

China is the biggest market for PowerbyProxi

Asia is a very important market for PowerbyProxi due to the presence of key OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturer) and ODMs (Original Design Manufacturer), and a massive supply-chain in the region. It plans to open a new office in the manufacturing hub of Taiwan. “The biggest market for us is China. We are just looking to find a right partner to expand into the region,” Cross adds.

The not-so-distant future of wireless charging 

Wireless power will soon become a part of everyday life. According to Cross, miniaturisation of receivers to enable convenient wireless recharging will breed further advances in the development of handheld devices and wearable technologies.  More important, users will be able to directly manage how power is distributed.  Consider, for instance, the ability to remotely monitor and coordinate the charging of numerous devices. “Not only will power become more flexible and accessible than ever before, but consumers will be able to exercise greater control over how it is used,” he says.

The same benefits will translate into the office, where integrated wireless power and wireless data solutions, will boost operational efficiency.

He explains that vehicle transportation will also become safer with wireless harnesses removing the need for complex wiring looms.  Various surfaces within the car can be converted into wireless transmitters for the charging of a range of electronic devices.  The same principle is applied to transport infrastructure on a grand scale. Transmitter pads and docks, integrated into roadways, intersections and carparks, provide an economical and environmentally-optimal means to support the re-fueling and recharging of the vehicle.

But it is believed that wireless charging will become mainstream only when consumers have a unified standard for charging across different means.

Wireless charging finally sees its star rise to the top

March 23, 2015 / 1 Comments / 204 /

March 23, 2015 | By Monica Alleven

For years, the industry promised ways to once and for all remove that tangled nest of wires for battery chargers, which are multiplying as consumers add more connected devices to their repertoire. But after years of fighting over standards, more and more industry experts are saying 2015 is, indeed, shaping up for wireless charging.

“2015 will be the year of wireless charging,” said David Recker, senior director, product marking in Broadcom’s Wireless Connectivity-Mobility Group, in an interview with FierceWirelessTech. “Wireless charging, I think, is going to be very big.”

Inductive coil technology, also known as tightly coupled, is backed by the Power Matters Alliance (PMA). It requires devices to be carefully aligned–or “tightly coupled”–with the battery charger, so if you’re charging a phone, it needs to perfectly line up with the charging technology in a charging pad, for example.  At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the PMA and Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP) announced they would merge. That still leaves a third group, the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC), which promotes the Qi chargers that are in McDonald’s, Marriott and other public locations around the world.

A4WP’s Rezence-branded wireless power transfer technology is based on the principles of magnetic resonance. It uses loosely coupled technology, so devices do not have to be perfectly aligned: Multiple devices can sit on top of a charger and charge at the same time.

The charger also can be built into furniture. If the charging technology is built to fit under a table, for example, patrons at the café can just set their devices on a table and let them charge as they go about their business. By using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), A4WP uses can accommodate multiple devices.

Then there are all those smart watches, wearables and mobile accessories to consider. “What’s really nice about it is A4WP also allows you to put a phone at 90 degrees and still charge,” Recker said. “Where that’s valuable is on a watch,” so if it has a solid band, the watch can sit on its side and get charged. “You have much more flexibility in your industrial design. You can make it waterproof; you don’t have to worry about putting a USB cable in there.”

Near the end of May last year, Broadcom unveiled an end-to-end wireless charging chipset with a “drop and go” mindset so that the consumer doesn’t have to think about it. Broadcom’s design enables multiple devices with different power requirements, like a tablet, smartphone and smartwatch, to charge at the same time without worrying where they’re placed on the charging area.

At Mobile World Congress 2015, Samsung unveiled the Samsung Galaxy 6 with a WPC and PMA-compatible wireless charging battery. Considering that one of the world’s most popular smartphone makers is including the technology in its flagship device, it’s easy to see where wireless charging is headed.

IKEA earlier this year said it will make Qi-powered bedside tables, lamps and desks available in Europe and North America this April, followed by a global rollout.

Others are chronicling 2015 as the year for wireless charging. In an EE Timespost, Fady Mishriki, co-founder and CTO at wireless charging pioneer PowerByProxi, said 2015 will be an exciting year for wireless power. The year started with the merging of two standards organizations–a merger that most of the press seems to have misinterpreted as a merging of two standards–which it is not, he said.

PowerByProxi contributed a significant amount of its technology, intellectual property and expertise to deliver an efficient, backwards-compatible resonant wireless charging system to the industry. It now has the world’s first resonant system compatible with the most widely deployed wireless power standard, providing companies like Samsung a “clear path to Resonant Qi with full backwards compatibility to Inductive Qi,” Mishriki wrote in the post.

The WPC notes that 15 automobile models have Qi chargers built in or available as a factory installed option, and there are now more than 300 styles of Qi-certified wireless chargers for home and office use.

Is 2015 Finally the Year Where Wireless Power Goes Mainstream?

March 12, 2015 / 0 Comments / 167 /

Fady Mishriki, Co-Founder, EVP and Chief Tesla Officer, 3/12/2015

It has been an incredibly exciting start to 2015 with several major announcements in wireless power along with several noticeable absences…

Just last week we saw the first major smartphone manufacturer (major by market share) embed wireless charging into their flagship device. Samsung has decided to build in the WPC’s Qi technology into their flagship Galaxy S6 and S6 edge device. Qi wireless charging will be supported out of the box by Samsung for the first time. These new smartphones will also support PMA. This is sometimes called “dual-mode.” As a WPC steering group member this is great news. You may be surprised to hear me say that, but it really is.

What it means is that companies making a significant investment to deploy infrastructure in coffee shops, cars, airports, home furniture and so on, can make those investments with confidence. There is no longer any fear or uncertainty regarding which standard major smartphones will adopt.

These dual-mode phones are and will continue to drive demand for Qi transmitters. It’s not hard to see why. Qi caters to the widest range of applications and offers a clear path forward to resonance whilst guaranteeing full backwards compatibility. Brands like IKEA, AirCharge, McDonalds, Chargespot, Marriott, Toyota to name few are all choosing Qi transmitters. That’s right – Qi only transmitters. In fact, there are over 682 Qi certified devices today.

The WPC called out a few key stats in its recent Press release:

  • 15 cars have Qi chargers built in, or available as a factory installed option. Examples include the new 2016 Toyota Camry and the 2015 Jeep Cherokee.
  • 80% of car manufacturers by volume will release cars with support for Qi.
  • Google wireless charging transmitters on Amazon – almost every option you see is Qi and there are so many great options to choose from. Some of my favourites are the TyltAircharge and Nokia ranges.

With the Samsung Galaxy S6 joining the Qi club, today almost every single smartphone manufacturer (except Apple, Levono and Xiaomi) has a flagship device with Qi wireless charging built in. This includes LG, HTC, Google Nexus, Microsoft and Motorola.

Aircharge’s recently launched app is a great way to find Qi charging spots around the world. It shows that there are over 3,000 locations in a wide variety of locations supporting Qi and this is only the beginning. Businesses are paying to install Qi. To put that in context, the PMA has 200noted locations –all within Starbucks locations. The noticeable absence of the A4WP camp is also interesting. A4WP has no products in the market to date.

Why then did PMA select A4WP as its resonance path forward given how similar WPC and PMA technology are? As an engineer and technologist, it’s hard to see how PMA and A4WP technologies can result in a single truly interoperable standard. One can always co-house systems, but that’s not a cost effective solution – nor is it likely to fit in a modern day smartphone.

Additionally, you may find it interesting that most of the press seems to have misinterpreted the merging of two standards organisations as the merging of two standards – which it is not.

When we hosted the Wireless Power Consortium in Auckland in January, the Resonant Qi Specification was made available to its 200+ member companies. We were pleased to host the meeting for the second year and contributed a significant amount of our technology, intellectual property and expertise to deliver a highly efficient, backwards-compatible, resonant wireless charging system.

We now we have the world’s first resonant system compatible with the most widely deployed wireless power standard. That’s extremely exciting as it provides companies like Samsung a clear path to Resonant Qi with full backwards compatibility to Inductive Qi.

The advancement includes safety features such as foreign object detection, even with multi-device systems, as well as an industry leading 70%+ total system efficiency for a fast and effective charge.

PowerbyProxi’s new evaluation kit is a single design which supports both Resonant Qi and Inductive Qi modes, providing a clear way forward for the growing number of OEMs who are integrating the WPC’s Qi standard into their smartphones and other devices.

PowerbyProxi's evaluation kit

PowerbyProxi’s evaluation kit

2015 is already off to a fast start and is going to be an incredibly exciting year for wireless power. One that we will look back on as a tipping point in the industry.

Wireless Power Consortium Achieves Key Technology Milestones for Fast Charging and Resonant Multi-Device Charging with Spatial Freedom

February 12, 2015 / 0 Comments / 179 /

PISCATAWAY, N.J.Feb. 12, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — The Wireless Power Consortium (WPC), the driving force and leader in the global adoption of wireless power technology, today made two draft specifications available to its members that extend the capabilities of the Qi wireless power standard.

The first extension of the Qi specification, called “Volume II: Medium Power,” enables fast charging of smartphones with up to 15 Watts delivered into the battery.

“An increasing number of smartphones require higher power levels and support fast charging at more than 5 Watts,” said Matt Ronning, chairman of the WPC’s Medium Power Work Group and Director of Engineering at Sony. “The Medium Power extension of the Qi specification increases the transferred power to 15 Watts and lays the ground work for a stepwise increase to higher power levels for smartphones, tablets and notebook computers.”

The second extension of the Qi specification, called “Volume III: Shared Mode,” enables multi-device charging with a single inverter, a resonant technology that reduces the cost of manufacturing multi-device chargers while providing large freedom of spatial positioning.

“Relentlessly driving down the cost of wireless chargers is necessary for mass adoption of wireless power,” said Tony Francesca, chairman of the WPC’s Resonance Task Force and VP of Business Development, Consumer Technologies at PowerbyProxi. “The ‘Shared Mode’ extension of the Qi specification makes wireless chargers that power multiple smartphones and tablets simultaneously much more affordable while delivering a better user experience with improved spatial freedom in horizontal and vertical positioning.”

The availability of these draft specifications makes it possible for WPC members to begin developing products and components. The feedback from the product developers will be used to finalize these extensions and release them publicly as part of the Qi Wireless Power Specification.

Extensions to the Qi specifications are always compatible with existing Qi chargers and Qi devices. The WPC’s standards development process makes it easy to add new features, such as increasing the X, Y and Z transmission range, transmitting higher power, and enhancing the communications capability of wireless chargers while making sure that new Qi products work seamlessly with existing Qi products.

“These extensions provide WPC members and their customers with a seamless combination of inductive and resonant technologies,” said Menno Treffers, WPC’s Chairman. “Customers can choose between inductive and resonant Qi chargers and be sure that the chargers work seamlessly with all Qi devices.”

About the Wireless Power Consortium and Qi  

Established in 2008, the Wireless Power Consortium is an open, collaborative standards development group of more than 200 company members.  WPC’s members include Belkin, ConvenientPower, Delphi, Freescale, IKEA, Haier, HTC, LG, Microsoft, Motorola, Nokia, Panasonic, PowerbyProxi, Royal Philips, Samsung, Sony, TDK, Texas Instruments, Verizon Wireless and ZTE. These companies — large and small competitors and ecosystem partners, from all parts of the industry and all parts of the globe — collaborate for a single purpose: to design and evolve the world’s most useful, safe and efficient standard for wireless power.

This global standard is called Qi, and it has become the world’s leading method for transferring electrical power without wires. Qi is designed into 80+ mobile devices, 15 models of cars, has more than 700 registered products that are enjoyed by more than 50 million users worldwide. For more information, visit www.wirelesspowerconsortium.com.

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