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Power Wireless Networking Technology

Wireless Charging Start-Up Claims 30-Foot Radius 242

Posted by Soulskill
from the balance-of-power dept.
Lucas123 writes "At Disrupt this week, Ossia Inc. demonstrated for the first time its wireless charging technology that founder Hatem Zeine said has a 30-foot radius and, like WiFi, can charge through walls and 'around corners.' The technology, still in prototype phase, uses the same spectrum as other wireless standards, such as WiFi and Bluetooth. The Cota wireless charging system includes a charger and a receiver — either a dongle device or chip-tech integrated into a product, such as a smartphone or battery. While it has yet to be miniaturized, Zeine said the wireless technology will eventually be small enough to fit into a AAA battery or any portable electronic device. While the technology has wider industrial implications, as a consumer product, a charging unit will likely sell for around $100, he said."
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Wireless Charging Start-Up Claims 30-Foot Radius

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  • Holy EMF Batman? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by H0p313ss (811249) on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @05:39PM (#44813185)

    Is it just me or does this seem like a really bad idea?

    • by Dzimas (547818) on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @05:42PM (#44813225)
      I dunno, but the fillings in my mouth are tingling.
      • by ronmon (95471)

        replying to negate a mis-click mod

        Sorry

    • I think this is the best idea I've seen since I've invented the death ray! I'm all pumped up about it!

      Sincerely yours, Nikola Tesla

    • Re:Holy EMF Batman? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by M0HCN (2981905) on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @06:03PM (#44813547)

      Well many homes already posess a 2.4GHz ISM band field generator, a few minor modification to the door interlock any you have just saved yourself $100.....

      The trouble with shrinking this sort of thing is that it moves you from a near field situation, where coupling is largely magnetic, to a far field one where coupling is electromagnetic (Yes I know they both are really electromagnetic, bear with me), and that raises interesting questions of physics, and also of local power density close to the transmitter.

      Now, there is also the health physics questions which for a non ionising EM field at 2.4Ghz come down to considering thermal effects. At 2.4Ghz this largely comes down to thermal effects in the skin and other surface layers (2.4GHz is used in microwave ovens for a reason, water has an absorbtion band there), the surface layer that **REALLY** matters in this is the eye! A few watts per square metre power flux density is probably not too much of a problem, much more might be.

      I smell a startup about to try for some more funding!

      73 M0HCN.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        The patent is here [google.com]. FWIW the frequency seems to be 5.8 GHZ but havent read the rest of it (posting AC to not lose mods)
      • Considering the amount of energy in sunlight, I really dont think a watt per square meter is really that big of a deal.

        • by Shavano (2541114)

          Sunlight stops at your skin. And 1 watt per square meter isn't going to deliver the stated 1w of power to a charging device smaller than your pinky finger. It requires a local field intensity at the device being charged of well over 100 W/m2. That's not really a safe level for people or electronics. The device described is supposed to focus power from some sort of phased array of transmitters, so it wouldn't be that intense anywhere but near the device it's focused on.

          • Sunlight consists of a LOT of different radiation, and a large portion of it is not visible.

            . It requires a local field intensity at the device being charged of well over 100 W/m2. That's not really a safe level for people or electronics

            Sunlight directly overhead delivers about 10x that, a lot of it in infrared and ultraviolet. UV alone is around 30W /m2.

      • by manu0601 (2221348)

        Now, there is also the health physics questions which for a non ionising EM field at 2.4Ghz come down to considering thermal effects. At 2.4Ghz this largely comes down to thermal effects in the skin and other surface layers (2.4GHz is used in microwave ovens for a reason, water has an absorbtion band there), the surface layer that **REALLY** matters in this is the eye! A few watts per square metre power flux density is probably not too much of a problem, much more might be.

        What about modulated signals? We have hints of them when a mobile phone gets a call while being close to a speaker, but there may be unheard frequencies

      • > I smell a startup about to try for some more funding!

        I rather smell some pretty bad science in your post.

        Near field component of an RF field can be either magnetic or electric: it depends from the source type (electric dipole vs. current loop) and its polarization. IIRC some useful discussion on the topic can be found here [illinois.edu]. The near field becomes negligible with respect to the propagating wavefield at a distance of a few wavelengths: if indeed they use 2.4 GHz for their device, either it isn't a
    • by Jmc23 (2353706)
      Nah, it'll be really fun to watch as your kids grow through multiples of antenna length.
  • Safety? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by NoKaOi (1415755) on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @05:42PM (#44813223)

    If you're blasting ~2.4ghz RF from one place to another, what happens when something absorptive gets in the way? If it can charge a smart phone, is it enough energy to burn you if you get in the way, or start a fire if it happens to be going through a nail in your wall?

    • by MightyYar (622222)

      It's 5.8 GHz... nothing absorbs that!

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Incorrect... If nothing absorbed it, you couldn't receive 5.8GHz Wifi signal. Conductors with a similar length to the wavelength or half wavelength will absorb it, that's how receiving antennas work, they usually either match the wavelength, half wavelength or quarter wavelength. The wavelength of an EM wave at 5.8GHz is around 5cm. If you have anything conductive with a length of around 1.2cm to 5cm, it will absorb power from a 5.8GHz signal.

    • by ultranova (717540)

      If it can charge a smart phone, is it enough energy to burn you if you get in the way, or start a fire if it happens to be going through a nail in your wall?

      It's impossible to say without getting numbers, which the article doesn't provide. However, I very much doubt a wall socket can supply sufficient power to cause burns fast enough that you wouldn't feel uncomfortable and move away first. A 100% efficient water heater takes everal minutes to boil a litre of water; your body is made mostly of water, so it

    • If you're blasting ~2.4ghz RF from one place to another, what happens when something absorptive gets in the way?

      Well, if I remember "The Avengers" correctly, you end up with a smoking charred spot where the person used to be.

      Did anyone notice a dude in a bowler bat and a cute chick in leather hanging out at this conference?

  • by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @05:42PM (#44813227) Homepage Journal
    How in the world are they going to push out significant amounts of power on bands with extremely strict transmission limits? It's going to take you all year to charge a AA battery from a 4000mW omnidirectional transmitter that's 10 meters away. Not to mention utterly destroying wifi and bluetooth signals for several hundred feet.
    • by jandrese (485)
      Sorry, I mean 100mW. The 4000mW figure is for point to point links, and wouldn't apply here.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        No, you were right the first time. 1 watt into 6db antenna = 36dbm = 4 watts erp. PtP systems can go higher with a 1db drop in power for each 3db increase in antenna gain. Still tis seems screwy. Enough power to charge a Li-Ion battery at more than 10 feet distance in less than a week would be of major health concern. Like disabling the lockouts and running your microwave oven with the door open.

        • by gweihir (88907)

          Indeed. I think this is just a clever fraud. Probably a button-cell hidden in one of the components on the demo-board.

          With an omni-directional sender antenna, most (>99%) of the power would just be wasted. A highly directional sender would need tracker, servos, etc. and could never be brought down to $100 and would still blast most of the energy right past the receiver.

      • by AK Marc (707885)
        With MIMO, you can have omniidirectional point to point links. The equipment manufacturers bend the rules as they see fit, and the FCC doesn't care.
    • I'm not sure how destructive it would be to other signals. Possibly not as destructive as you might think.

      If it is transmitting a pure sine wave then wifi might not care since its clearly not data and isn't changing.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by jandrese (485)
        It's still noise to the wifi card unless it is specifically built to filter out that extra carrier somehow. Theoretically it is possible, but no consumer card is going to support it today. It's kind of like talking to someone and then having a guy with an air horn 10 feet away start blowing it constantly. With proper processing you could pick the conversation back out of the noise, but it's not something your average person is going to be able to do.
      • your 2W carrier that has no data and my 100mW carrier that has important data can still interfere with each other.

    • No, it's not omnidirectional, he's doing beam forming.

      So he creates a 4W beam and aims it at the receiver. That's why when he moved the device, it went out; the beam was missing for a while until the transmitter figured it out and steered the beam to where he was now standing.

      This works fine, provided the power density isn't too high; otherwise if people get in the way of the beam then they get heated up. A few watts may be the limit. more if the receiver is bigger.

  • scary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dmitrygr (736758) <dmitrygr@gmail.com> on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @05:42PM (#44813233) Homepage
    without beamforming - inverse square law says no
    with beamforming, one must remember that beamforming cannot focus in just one place, smaller but still constructive maxima will exist elsewhere. what wants 1/3 of a watt focused on their gonads accidentally?
  • by Russ1642 (1087959) on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @05:43PM (#44813235)

    The tinfoil hat crowd is going to go ballistic when this technology becomes ubiquitous. I can't wait. I'm already thinking of witty one-liners.

  • I seem to recall the M5 using wireless charging over distance with disastrous results...
  • Potential Snake Oil (Score:5, Informative)

    by The RoboNerd (551256) <pyrex&att,net> on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @05:46PM (#44813285) Homepage
    He attached a cube to an iphone, held it in the air, and it started charging. We have to go by faith that there are no batteries in the cube. Sorry but this sounds like snake oil.
  • by WillgasM (1646719) on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @05:53PM (#44813401) Homepage
    "It's like your Wi-Fi signal. If you can get a Wi-Fi signal, you'll be able to get power."

    Yes, but now we can't get Wi-Fi signal.
    Also, how often is the "beacon" signal refreshed? Do I need to stand perfectly still while my device is recharging? Why is my skin peeling?
    • by mfwitten (1906728)

      * "It's like your WiFi signal" does not mean "It takes the place of your WiFi signal". It's called an analogy.

      * That question is asked and answered in (at least) the video: The final receiver will be tracked continuously in the final product; the current behavior is mainly for demonstration purposes only.

      * Next time, do a little a research and thinking before spouting off from the unproductive comfort of your armchair.

  • So how do you stop leakage and vampires?

    You can't really encrypt a power signal.

    • by RichMan (8097)

      I take back the "you can't really encrypt a power signal". They are doing synthetic beam forming using spatial location as the coding to separate devices. The command and control channel will help the sender configure to location of the device to be charged.

      Getting it to sum to 1W at only the selected location is not something they can guarantee without accurately mapping out the space. And doing it dynamically if there are people moving is something else.

      Lots of trickey math and I doubt they can avoid a go

      • by TheLink (130905)
        Stealing power is one problem, another is if a hacker can get all the chargers in an area to sum to 100W or more at a target ;).
  • No. At least not in this implementation.

    From the article:
    "Cota is inherently safe, as safe as your Wi-Fi hub," Zeine said. "A Cota-enabled device sends out a beacon signal that finds paths to the charger, which in turn returns the power signal through only those open paths back to the receiver, avoiding people or anything that absorbs its energy."

    Ok, so it has a two-way connection between the "transmitter" and "receiver". It wouldn't be hard to modulate the energy output levels from both devices to encode d

    • Starts to make more sense....

      From the Ossia Inc. LinkedIn page...

      "Ossia is challenging people's imagination about what is possible with wireless power. Ossia's flagship product, Cota, redefines wireless power by safely delivering remote, targeted energy to devices as far away as 30 feet without line of site. Built on Ossia's patented smart antenna technology, Cota automatically keeps multiple devices charged without any user intervention, enabling an efficient and truly wire-free, powered-up world that is a

  • My friend's father is part of the team that developed this. It's safe (according to him).
  • by Lehk228 (705449)
    note to self, keep my nads more than 30 feet from these things
  • by rossdee (243626) on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @06:16PM (#44813705)

    Remember the story "Waldo" by Heinlein

    I don't think wireless power is a good idea.

    Speaking of Waldo (and Magic, Inc) , Baen will be publishing it in ebook form April 2014. Buy it by March 15th to get it at the bundle price, also in the april bungle is Cauldron of Ghosts by David Weber and Eric Flint and Upon a Sea of Stars by A. Bertram Chandler

    • by mattack2 (1165421)

      Remember the story "Waldo" by Heinlein

      No. Where is he?

  • The best thing about it is that it also works as a microwave oven and a tanning booth!

  • Make the receiver the size of AA batteries. Then throw out all batteries for low-use devices that don't travel. Kids games, wireless remotes, and all sorts of things all being run on wireless power, never needing a battery again would be a great thing for the environemnt. You'd buy batteries for portable radios and flashlights only. The infinitely rechargeable batteries.
  • Will it erase all the floppy disks and audio tapes in the house?

  • The actual tech (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AdamHaun (43173) on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @07:00PM (#44814145) Journal

    I dug up what looks to be the main patent [ipexl.com] for the technology from 2008:

    The microwave energy is focused onto a device to be charged by a power transmitter having one or more adaptively-phased microwave array emitters. Rectennas within the device to be charged receive and rectify the microwave energy and use it for battery charging and/or for primary power. A communications channel is opened between the wireless power source and the device to be charged. The device to be charged reports to the power source via the channel a received beam signal strength at the rectennas. This information is used by the system to adjust the transmitting phases of the microwave array emitters until a maximum microwave energy is reported by the device to be charged. Backscatter is minimized by physically configuring the microwave array emitters in a substantially non-uniform, non-coplanar manner.

    I don't know enough about antennas and E&M to evaluate that. Any help here? According to the articles it gets ~10% efficiency at 10 feet and receives (?) 1 watt at 30 feet.

    On to the possible crank warning signs:
    * According to his LinkedIn profile [linkedin.com], he's spent his whole career being a CEO and/or (later) doing software testing at Microsoft.
    * He's identified as a physicist, but all he has to show for it is a bachelor's in physics from the University of Manchester (where he also "studied ... computational linguistics"). No graduate degree or research career.
    * Twenty years after he gets his degree, having done nothing but software, he's suddenly producing miraculous hardware based on cutting-edge physics?
    * Charger is hidden behind a curtain during a demo.
    * Charger is six feet tall, but they're going to consumerize it to the size of a desktop PC in two years, when it will cost ~$100.
    * Replacing all their off-the-shelf hardware with custom-built optimized hardware? No problem!
    * Current fridge-sized charger has 200 transmitters, but when consumerized will have "20,000 transmitters in an 18-inch cube".
    * The only public demo makes an iPhone declare itself to be charging. No electrical test equipment or data shown. No real evidence that it does anything.
    * Claims the power goes through walls just like Wi-Fi, even though Wi-Fi signal strength can drop by orders of magnitude when it goes through walls.
    * Charger only gets 10% efficiency from 10 feet away in open air, but this is never mentioned as an obstacle. Come to think of it, no technical obstacles are mentioned at all.
    * This:

    “In wave theory and electromagnetic systems, you don’t get linearities everywhere,” he added, describing the science behind Cota. “There are situations where double could mean for more, like double could mean square, or 3 plus 3 apples could result in a net total of 9 apples, so to speak. When you move from the linear version to the power version, things happen that were quite surprising.”

    I don't know, maybe I'm being too hard on the guy. Maybe he's been doing physics and electronics as hobbies all this time, actually did come up with a workable idea, and used his management experience to drive the development of a real product. Maybe they really will have a commercialized version ready in a couple months and I'll have to eat crow. I just can't help but feel skeptical of people who announce their world-changing new product before it actually is a product.

  • Chemo-sabi.
  • Efficiency? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Kal Zekdor (826142)

    Even if this technology works reliably, on which I have my doubts, (not to mention the potential health risks if this thing accidentally irradiates someone by mis-aiming its EM beam), did anyone there stop to consider the efficiency of sending power through EM bursts at receivers through 30 feet of air, plus a wall or three? Can you imagine just how much energy is wasted through dissipation? We don't need less efficient means of transporting electricity. Anybody who uses this thing is going to use 3 - 10 ti

  • by Ol Olsoc (1175323) on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @09:26PM (#44815233)
    From TFA

    "Cota is inherently safe, as safe as your Wi-Fi hub," Zeine said. "A Cota-enabled device sends out a beacon signal that finds paths to the charger, which in turn returns the power signal through only those open paths back to the receiver, avoiding people or anything that absorbs its energy."

    If I'm reading that at all correctly, this is using beamformed RF, especially since it must work in the Far field. Not much near field in this frequency range. And getting a watt of charging power in the far field needs beamforming or what the boys down at the shop call "A shitload of power."

    So this device on your phone apparently"asks" for power. Then the main station sends it to the device. The miracle part is that the formed beam supposedly misses people, goes around corners, and performs other really sexy heretofore unknown RF majick.

    Umm, how is this RF power going to "miss you" if you are using the phone?

    Also, if you are using it and moving around the house, is it going to continuously follow you?

    What if you have multiple devices in different parts of the house?

    What if you are 31 feet away?

    What if you leave the house? Going to have two different charging systems?

    So much better to use a near field induction system if you really really have to have cordless charging. At least you'll remember where you put the phone.

  • by houbou (1097327)
    What happens to people if they are surrounded by these charges?
  • So, 90% loss of power used at 10 feet. But hey, at least I don't have to get up and walk over to that wall socket to charge my cellphone. Mind you, now my wireless doesn't work for some reason, so my phone's using a lot less power with no wi-fi active. Win-win!

    "Despite the fact that no one’s heard of Ossia, the Cota prototype in its current form already managed to deliver power wirelessly to devices over distances of around 10 feet, delivering around 10 percent of the total original source power to r

  • This whole idea is neat but just won't work. The premise is that there are lots of high-power devices out there which have really crappy battery life. Phone battery life is steadily improving and Qi etc. does just about everything you need.

    These people are assuming that in 5 years phone battery life will be crappier than it is now and it will just be essential to have this.

    The only thing this could be useful for is powering lots of little IOT devices, but I feel like this is just a really inefficient way

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