There are a lot of exciting things happening of late at PowerbyProxi and in the broader wireless power industry – all in all it has kept me very busy and is partly the reason my last blog post was 3 months ago! (my travel manager tells me I have flown over 160,000 kms to meet with our many customers and partners).
Two weeks ago, to cope with exponential growth, our Auckland office (where all our clever R&D is done) moved across Victoria Park into our big new home at 43 College Hill, Freemans Bay Bay in Auckland. The dreaded move went seamlessly thanks to our wonderful Executive Assistant.
A few days prior to that move, we also welcomed Qualcomm to the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC) at their Qingdao, China meeting. At that meeting Tony Francesca (our VP of Business Development, Consumer Technologies) was also appointed to Chair the WPC’s Resonance Task Force (part of the Low Power Working Group).
The most exciting thing however is that last week we announced our strategic partnership with Samsung – after a courtship that lasted a couple of years. When we founded the company in 2007, we knew that Consumer Electronics was going to be a key market for us, but it was still too early for the technology back then. This partnership is further evidence that wireless power is fast becoming mainstream in Consumer Electronics.
For me personally, this marks the commercial realization of work that started many years ago when I was a student at The University of Auckland. We are now well positioned to leverage our wireless power technology (find out more info on wireless power) in both the consumer and industrial market segments with Samsung and TE Connectivity as strategic partners respectively.
It is certainly a very exciting time for us at PowerbyProxi. The partnership with Samsung in particular is significant for us given they have also been one of the earliest proponents of wireless power. Many Galaxy and Note smartphones have had wireless charging ports as standard for some time now, as an example.
In announcing the deal, Vice President, Hugh Kim, Director of Wireless Charging Development said “Our research identified PowerbyProxi as a leader in wireless power technology based on its expertise, track record and comprehensive patent portfolio.”
The partnership will enable us to leverage our wireless power technology and IP to deliver the best user experience to a mass audience. We are certainly excited to be working with Samsung.
With so much of what we do under wraps, it’s nice to be able to share some of the exciting things going on at PowerbyProxi. We have more major announcements coming out soon so keep your eyes peeled!
The Wireless Power World Shanghai 2012 was held last month on Sept 12 -13 where many of the leading companies presented and attended.
It was evident at the show that all companies and industry groups are now driving to a common set of objectives addressing the fundamental needs of consumers. These consist of spatial freedom, simultaneously charging multiple devices, and addressing a wide power range for devices from smartphones to tablets and PCs. Spatial freedom is the new term for “loosely coupled” and more intuitive than the prior technical term.
Although the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC) was first in creating an interoperable specification to start the market, the adoption has been slow. Some of the basic limitations for consumers have been the “tightly coupled” or non-spatial freedom requiring consumers to precisely align their device on a charging pad, charging only one device at a time, and power to charge only a smartphone. While on my travels throughout Asia last month, I discovered that a number of tier 1 OEMs decided not to supply WPC based products not only due of those limitations but also because of unacceptable performance for low efficiency and generating too much heat.
There are now 3 industry groups driving these common objectives: WPC, A4WP, and the Consumer Electronics Association Working Group 4 (CEA WG4). The CEA WG4, where PowerbyProxi is one of the leading contributors, was formed over one year ago and took the lead in defining an interoperable specification for what the rest of the industry is now recognizing as the fundamental needs.
PowerbyProxi demonstrated working products and technologies at the Wireless Power World Shanghai 2012 which deliver the ultimate in spatial freedom and the ability to charge multiple devices simultaneously with its Proxi-3D and Proxi-2D charging platforms as well as the most miniaturized receivers that can fit into AA batteries.
Let me now your thoughts.
There are hundreds of millions of Consumer Electronics devices that run on AA batteries and hundreds of millions more ship every year. Examples of devices are: digital cameras, portable game players, portable music players, Xbox 360 game controllers, Xbox 360 headsets, Nintendo Wii game controllers, TV remote, DVR remotes, children’s toys, …
Many consumers buy disposable AA batteries to keep their device running. When batteries lose their charge, consumers throw them away and replace them with new ones. The process is: remove the old ones, throw them away, and make sure the new ones are correctly inserted or the device will not work. Where do the old ones go? In a toxic landfill, of course. Imagine how many tons of toxic batteries are disposed of every year!
What are the alternatives?
You can certainly purchase rechargeable AA batteries. When batteries run low, you remove them and place them in a battery charger. The benefits are that you don’t have to keep purchasing new batteries and you are a good corporate citizen on not adding to the toxic waste problem. However, you still have to remove the batteries from the device, place them in a charger, and make sure you correctly insert them back into your device.
PowerbyProxi has taken this to the next level of user convenience with wirelessly rechargeable AA batteries which utilizes our unique miniaturized receiver technology. Any device that runs on AA batteries instantly becomes a wirelessly rechargeable device by replacing the disposable batteries with the new wirelessly rechargeable AA batteries. When batteries run low, you simply place the device into the charger, no need to remove the batteries. It is practical and as simple as that. This new way of charging is referred to as “In-Device Charging” thanks to PowerbyProxi’s innovation and leadership in wireless power.
Imagine this convenience: no need to keep buying more disposable batteries; no need for the cumbersome step of removing batteries from the device; and no need to correctly replace the batteries in the device. In addition, you are a good corporate citizen by reducing the growth in toxic landfills.
Refer to the link for a video example. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aqf3b7hqsxw
Let me now your thoughts.
Continuing on from my previous blogs regarding wireless power & charging standards and comparing various stances on the wireless charging of electronic devices – today I want to discuss the respective positions on frequency.
I have written in the past about convenience for Consumers in wirelessly charging mobile devices. Some of the key factors are:
While the Consumer Electronics Association WG4 will deliver on the above, there is an on-going debate to select the right frequency.
Of course the Wireless Power Consortium has defined a specification for frequencies below 500 KHz. Such products have been shipping and proven to be safe and reliable.
At the same time, another working group called the A4WP is driving a specification for a frequency of 6.78 MHz – making it incompatible with products now shipping. In addition, the 6.78 MHz frequency has not yet been proven to meet safety and emission requirements, while is also expected to cost more.
Does it not seem obvious that Consumer Electronics Association WG4 select a frequency less than 500 KHz, which has been proven to meet the safety and emission standards, is the lowest cost for consumers, and is interoperable?
Let me now your thoughts.
The CEA has formed 2 working groups to drive specifications, with the goal of establishing a large market for Consumer Electronics:
WG4 System Requirements for Highly Resonant Wireless Power Systems
Summary: “WG4 is developing ANSI/CEA-2042.4. This standard will define system requirements for highly resonant wireless power systems. Highly resonant wireless power systems are systems that transfer power wirelessly using magnetic induction, and that require magnetic resonance.” This is also referred to in the industry as loosely coupled.
WG5 System Requirements for Tightly-Coupled Wireless Power Transfer
Summary: “WG5 is developing ANSI/CEA-2042.5. This standard will define system requirements for a tightly coupled wireless power system. A tightly coupled wireless power system is an inductive wireless power transfer system with a strong magnetic linkage between the primary and secondary coil.”
Why would any consumer care for another tightly coupled solution? Isn’t this just another manifestation of the specification released by the Wireless Power Consortium with all its limitations?
I believe WG4 is solving real customer needs to enable practical solutions for Consumer Electronics. Don’t you?
PowerbyProxi is a member of WG4 and one of the main contributors to this specification. We are leveraging our world class team in wireless power and many years of delivering practical solutions that customers want.
Let me now your thoughts.
One of the hottest new technologies for Mobile Consumer Electronics is battery recharging without plugging in the power cord – thanks to wireless technology.
The fundamental wireless power technology itself was invented in the last century and common devices such as electric toothbrushes have been using it since the 1990’s.
The next frontier is to recharge a broad range of Consumer Electronics devices such as smartphones and tablets, ultrabooks, notebooks, digital cameras, and many others that would use a conventional AA rechargeable battery. Certainly, consumer convenience is the ability of wirelessly recharging a device by placing it on a power charging mat and skipping the step of plugging in the power cable. This is a big advantage since connectors and cables become unreliable and break down after many uses (think doing this one or more times per day).
The Wireless Power Consortium (WPC) was formed 3 years ago and created a specification. Suppliers lined up to develop and supply solutions. Market analysts have been setting high expectations for consumer adoption.
So why has adoption been slow to date? Have you seen the products being supplied by the WPC vendors and do you understand what they are capable or NOT capable of?
What is not spoken of is that with WPC products you have to be careful in aligning and orienting your smartphone or other device precisely on the charging pad. Otherwise it will not charge! This is an extra step and not a true convenience. Some people refer to this as a tightly coupled solution.
Also, many consumers want to simultaneously charge multiple devices. Again the WPC based charging pads can do so but the cost increases significantly with each device since the electronics and coils need to be replicated.
I have heard that heat generated by the WPC products may be an issue for devices. If anyone has details, please share them so that we can better understand the issue.
In my view, the above limitations are inherent in the WPC specification. This falls short of the benefits that consumers expect and thus may not create a mass market.
To solve all these important problems with practical solutions, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) formed a working group to drive a worldwide standard. Have you seen what they are up to and who is leading this charge?