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CES: New tech promises to expand wireless charging

PowerbyProxi says one charging box using its tools can wirelessly power up to eight devices simultaneously

January 9, 2013 11:18 AM ET

Computerworld - LAS VEGAS -- PowerbyProxi has developed technology that it says can wireless charge AA batteries, smartphones and even headphones -- all at the same time.

PowerbyProxi claims the new wireless charging technology improves on the current industry standard Qi (pronounced "chee") tech that's now used in products that from single device charging pads to speaker systems.

Qi's creator, the Wireless Power Consortium, said that products from about 140 companies are currently certified as compliant with the standard.

New Zealand-based PowerbyProxi demonstrated its technology, not yet included in a shipping product, at Pepcom's Digital Experience show at the CES show here this week.

Greg Cross, co-founder and chairman of PowerbyProxi, said his firm's wireless technology uses loosely coupled charging, which unlike the more restrictive Qi-enabled tech, doesn't require that devices be placed within a tight parameter to achieve maximum charging efficiency.

Cross said PowerbyProxi-compliant charging pads and boxes and other products are expected to be available within a year to 18 months.

In a presentation at CES, Cross moved one Nokia smartphone around the surface of a charging pad to demonstrate that the new technology allows charging no matter where the device is placed.

In another demonstration, Cross placed three phones in different areas on the pad. All were charged at the same wattage that's available in a wall outlet.

PowerbyProxi co-founder and CEO Fady Mishriki demonstrated miniaturized wireless receivers inside AA batteries. The wireless technology takes up about 10% of the battery height.

Mishriki inserted the batteries into a toy truck, which was dropped into a white 10-in by 6-in by 6-in charging box. Once inserted LED lights in the batteries started blinking, indicating that they were charging.

The box can charge up eight batteries in multiple devices at one time. "It doesn't have to be AA batteries. They could be lithium ion or even custom batteries," Mishriki said.

Like the Qi technology, PowerbyProxi uses magnetic induction charging techniques, which require that devices be in contact with a charging surface, such as a charging pad. Or, in the case of the charging box, surrounded on three sides by a charging surface.

To date, however, the leading charging pad supplier has been Duracell's Powermat technology.

Meanwhile, magnetic resonance technology, which allows devices to be placed short distances from chargers, is likely to be available soon. \

For instance, Witricity is producing magnetic resonance technology that can be used to charge products ranging from car batteries to televisions.

Resonance charging is based on the same transmitter/receiver coil technology as magnetic induction, but it transmits the power at a greater distance.

For CES, PowerbyProxi built its own demonstration equipment, though the company has no long term plans to make and sell its own products. Instead, it plans to license the specifications to charging system makers and mobile device firms.

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