US-based startup Ossia has developed technology which enables a number of electronic devices in different rooms to be recharged remotely.
Being able to charge the battery of your electronic devices remotely and wirelessly appears to be the latest disruptive innovation heading towards the consumer. Beyond the vision of a paperless world, we are now on the brink of a wireless world, with information and communication technology (ICT) players seemingly determined to offer their customers a life without cables or wires. During the Consumer Electronic Show 2014 (CES2014) – the mass market electronics fair held in Las Vegas in January – auto manufacturer Audi presented wireless charging for its cars, while Ossia, a startup based in Redmond, Washington State, demonstrated a system for charging smartphones without any physical contact. Ossia’s Cota system allows you to charge up several devices remotely, without any physical contact or even direct line of sight between the device and the charging station. This month, during a demonstration to investors and engineers, a Cota transmitter and receiver successfully charged an iPhone battery at a distance of around 12 meters, through two walls.
Charging remotely through walls
Cota allows you to charge multiple devices simultaneously, sending a stream of power to each device, even when they move around in a nearby room. The power is transmitted at a distance of up to 12 meters through smart antenna technology patented by Ossia, using none of the other existing approaches to cordless charging – induction plates as used by the Audi charger, ultrasound waves or magnetic resonance. Cota receivers integrated into the device batteries send multi-directional low-power beacon signals on a regular basis, thus indicating when they require a power top-up to be streamed from the stationary charging device at the premises. A single Cota charging stack can charge up all the battery-powered devices in different rooms at the home or small business without any conscious action from their owner. Cota also works seamlessly with other technologies such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth networks as it operates in the same 2.4 GHz frequency band. Cota may also help to save energy as, unlike wired chargers that consume energy on a continuous basis, Cota only starts up when a device within range is calling for power and goes into standby mode when not transmitting power.
Some consumers may have reservations regarding the potential long-term side effects on the human body. However, Ossia founder and CEO Hatem Zeine claims that Cota technology is not harmful to health, as its tracking beacons only use about 1/10,000th of the signal power of Wi-Fi – itself considered a weak signal in terms of power – and Cota’s streams of targeted signals are only of more or less the same intensity as that produced by a mobile telephone during a call. Moreover, Cota’s power signals naturally go around everything that absorbs power, such as people, animals and plants, explains Hatem Zeine. Ossia is planning to unveil a second prototype to the public later this year, incorporating the latest advances in the technology. The company is currently working with mass market electronics manufacturers who use the Cota technology under license and hopes to see its patented receivers integrated into the next generation of consumer ICT products. Cota is not very dissimilar to an Internet connection box installed in homes and offices. Users will be able to configure the system so that it charges either all equipment in range or only designated devices. A number of manufacturing plants and oil and gas refineries, among other companies, are now exploring the opportunities that Cota could provide for their businesses.