Article featured in New Zealand Engineering News February issue – A link to the original story can be found here, otherwise full content has been included below:
New Zealand company leads world with wireless recharging
By Phil Whyte
Proving yet again that New Zealanders punch well above their weight in wireless power technologies, PowerbyProxi last month previewed its new integrated wireless charging smartphone solution at Pepcom’s digital experience in Las Vegas.
This move follows on from the company’s announcement earlier in the year that it had secured exclusive rights to a key wireless power patent portfolio from the University of Auckland via its commercialisation company UniServices.
These patents will help PowerbyProxi continue to work on new capabilities for wireless power including multi-axis, position-free and extended-reach wireless power charging. These functions have been widely recognized as key to moving wireless charging forward to full widescale consumer adoption.
PowerbyProxi has developed the world’s most advanced and safest wireless power system. The company gives consumer electronics and industrial product designers the freedom to wirelessly transfer efficient power in the most difficult places: from a miniaturised receiver inside an AA battery to a mission critical solution in the demanding and hostile environment of a wind turbine control system.
PowerbyProxi has its research and development head office in Auckland, and its sales and marketing is directed from Pleasanton in California’s Silicon Valley. None of its 50 customers are in New Zealand, although it is working on a project with Tokoroa-based Waratah Ltd, via that company’s owner John Deere, based in Moline, Illinois, USA. PowerbyProxi has worked with customers on over 50 real world projects and built its deep technical know-how by initially focusing on complex industrial applications.
“The university’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering is arguably the world research leader in inductive power transfer and wireless power technology,” PowerbyProxi Executive Chairman Greg Cross told New Zealand Engineering News.
“Our founding team, which originally spun out of this department, along with our exclusive access to key patents developed over many years, gives us a significant commercial advantage in the consumer electronics field.”
The technology is for portable CE devices, semiconductors, and batteries. It has never before been available to a commercial entity for use in CE devices.
Unlike existing wireless power charging solutions, which require devices to be placed in a precise location on a charging pad, inductively coupled power transfer (IPT) offers the unique ability to recharge multiple devices at the same time, regardless of the position or axis.
PowerbyProxi has developed breakthrough technology that allows for the integration of receivers directly into devices with small or thin form factors. The result is the world’s only receiver technology small enough to be integrated directly into smartphones, tablets as well as into rechargeable batteries.
An example of the use of the Powerby- Proxi system in the home is that all battery powered items – from kids’ toys, remotes, hand blender to alarm clocks – plug into Proxi-3D in device charging station and they will all charge up as quickly as if they were plugged into wall sockets.
The licence granted by UniServices in October last year extends to 30 functional areas in the CE field relating to IPT system design and apparatus. When combined with PowerbyProxi’s existing patents, the company has one of the most extensive portfolios in the industry with over 125 patents and more than 900 claims.
The PowerbyProxi launch last month related solely to its solution for wireless recharging of smartphones.
This requires a miniature receiver efficient enough to be integrated into the smartphone’s processor board without causing overheating. The processor works with a transmitter that provides complete spatial freedom of position and is housed in a sleek charging pad.
“OEM feedback has been overwhelmingly positive to our initial samples and test data showing how far we are ahead of comparative solutions.” Mr Cross says.
”This is the most advanced wireless charging system for smartphones available today, not only because our patented design allows for full spatial freedom on the charging pad, but because we can simultaneously charge up to three devices at full speed.”
Wireless charging solutions have been integrated into smartphones to date have typically suffered from problems like over-heating. To combat this requires the development of a special thermal cover to protect the smartphone’s circuitry. As well, the phones have to be precisely positioned on the charging pad for transfer of power.
The devices have also taken much longer to charge than if plugged into a wall socket. The PowerbyProxi recharging pad provides charging at the same speed as wired charging and is based on a loosely coupled design.
PowerbyProxi’s smartphone system is the world’s first wireless charging system capable of being fully integrated into a smartphone: the receiver circuit and coil can fit inside a smartphone alongside other components – no covers, sleeves or other add-ons.
The system has built-in foreign object detection, silverware and other metal objects do not overheat when charging. They remain at room temperature while on the pad and while other devices are charging.
Environmental changes ahead
The growth of wireless technology will bring changes to our living and work spaces as well as environmental gains.
In the 1970s New Zealand houses were built with one power point in each bedroom and perhaps two in the living room and kitchen, and offices were reticulated with similar ecomomy.
Since then we have seen the number of power points multiply in all these locations.
But now we are heading into the wireless age there will be another change, with many electrical items in the home and office powered via a wireless router, says PowerbyProxi Executive Chairman Greg Cross.
“Over the next 10 years wireless technology will increase in most homes,” Mr Cross says, “Wireless charging will permeate the home and business infrastructure.”
He is also bullish about the environmental gains from wireless recharging of batteries.
“These days most people buy ordinary batteries like AAs and throw them away when they go flat, and disposing of batteries is a significant environmental issue,” he says, “and not many people bother to use rechargeable batteries.”
The wireless recharging of batteries will counter this, and manufacturers will be marketing batteries with the required chip as a premium item with a longer life. Your child’s toy or blender will probably wear out before its battery does.