80-ft far field wireless – even pad-less! – device charging

26 September 2018

Credit: Shutterstock

Introducing the Bluetooth-approved PowerSpot embedded transmitter: industry’s first device to communicate in the far field to charge multiple consumer gadgets over the air – and all with no charging pads.

Powercast began production of the PowerSpot transmitter after receiving FCC (ID: YESTX91503) and ISED (Canada IC: 8985A-TX91503) approval late December 2017, promising delivery in Q3 2018. The company is also launching a development kit to help manufacturers easily design PowerSpot-based wireless charging ecosystems (see footnote).

How Powercast’s patented remote wireless charging technology works

Creating a coverage area similar to Wi-Fi, the PowerSpot transmitter automatically powers or charges PowerSpot-enabled devices when they come within range. The transmitter uses the 915-MHz ISM band to send RF energy over the air to Powercast’s tiny Powerharvester receiver chip (embedded in the device in question), which converts it to direct current (DC) – to either directly power or recharge such a device’s batteries. The Bluetooth-approved transmitter detects devices within range and automatically begins to deliver the required power.

The company’s vision is to enable long-range, true wireless charging, where consumers simply place all their PowerSpot-enabled devices within range of a PowerSpot transmitter in their home or a public place.

The PowerSpot creates an overnight charging zone of up to 80 feet, free of both wires and charging mats

Powercast Corporation's three-watt, Bluetooth-approved PowerSpot transmitter

The PowerSpot transmitter was designed to automatically top off up to 30 PowerSpot-enabled devices left on a countertop overnight in its charging zone, which varies with device type and power consumption. Instructions included with enabled devices will show recommended charging distance and time for that device.

For example, power-hungry, heavily used devices like game controllers, smart watches, fitness bands, hearing aids, or headsets charge best up to two feet away; keyboards and mice up to six feet away; smart cards and TV remotes up to 10 feet away; and low-power devices like home automation sensors up to 80 feet away.

On the transmitter, an illuminated LED indicates when the devices are charging and it turns off when they are fully powered up. Audible or visual alerts indicate when devices move in and out of the charge zone.

The Bluetooth-approved PowerSpot features a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) multiprotocol solution that makes the transmitter, not only smart and configurable, but controllable. For example, BLE wirelessly schedules power transmissions, monitors battery status of charging devices, turns off the transmitter when devices are fully charged, and communicates data (detected devices and their IDs, BLE signal strength, charging level, and more) to the PowerSpot app.

Said Powercast’s COO/CTO Charles Greene, Ph.D: “We’re excited about a consumer product we’re designing that is powered via our PowerSpot transmitter, but our main focus is on helping consumer device manufacturers develop their own PowerSpot-based wireless charging ecosystems.

Powercast's PowerSpot retail package, which includes the PowerSpot TX91503 RF wireless transmitter, a six-foot power cord, a USB wall outlet adapter, and a quick start guide

“We already have numerous deals with Fortune 200 companies, and we expect product releases, theirs and ours, in 2019.”

Footnote: PowerSpot development kit facilitates the design of PowerSpot-based wireless charging ecosystems

The abovementioned development kit (which includes the PowerSpot TX91503 transmitter, a development board that is able to charge three kinds of batteries; two Powerharvester receiving antennas; and two PS915 illuminated RF field detectors) enables engineers to test the PowerSpot's capability to charge devices using multiple battery types.

The data acquired can help the said users to decide if the wireless power solution is a fit for their application, and then plan their designs accordingly.

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