If you are excited about your mobile devices, you may have a wireless charging pad at home that you can place your phone on to recharge the battery. However, a lot of companies are hoping for a more liberating technology that transmits energy through the air, and one of them, Ossia, has just cleared a regulatory hurdle making its way into products in the UK and Europe.
Approval is an important step in making long-distance wireless charging a reality, but it’s only one step. Companies like Ossia, Energetic other Guru They have been supporting charging technology for years without much adoption beyond a few niches and demos.
Ossia’s approval follows approval from the US Federal Communications Commission, but that’s only for charging distances up to 1 meter, about 3 feet. European and British approvals are unlimited in scope, although the practical limit for the company’s technology is about 10 meters, Chief Executive Doug Stovall said, and the company awaits US approvals for longer-range use.
Every business expects charging cables and charging pads to look as dated as Ethernet network cables in the days of Wi-Fi. Long-range wireless power could free us from the burden of anxiety with phones, headphones, security cameras, heart rate monitors, smart doorbells, and other devices. Ultimately, ubiquitous charging could mean smaller batteries or even no batteries.
“The load goes from an active effort, where a device has to be captive, to something in the background,” as automatic as your phone retrieving your email instead of days gone by when you had to tell your computer to sign up, said Ali Hajimiri, CEO of competitor Ossia GuRu. That company is working with Motorola to commercialize the longer range cargo.
Long Range Wireless Charging Challenges
Several obstacles stood in the way of greater success. One is the chicken and egg problem of classic technology: without widespread charging stations to transmit power, there is little incentive for device manufacturers to support the technology, and without device manufacturer support, there is no reason why consumers buy a hub. An Ossia station is a flat square approximately one foot on each side.
Another challenge is that each charging system is proprietary, which means that a GuRu-charged phone will not work with a charging station powered by Ossia. The standards problem bogged down loading docks for years. Only when Apple sided with the Qi standard on the iPhone 8 did the chaos of the wireless charging pad subside.
And even short-range wireless charging hasn’t been a huge hit, said Carolina Milanesi, an analyst at Creative Strategies. “Many people still find it difficult to justify wireless charging in the more traditional way because of the longer time it takes to charge. With the distance, more complications are added with no apparent real payoff,” he said.
Certifications should help, Ossia’s Stovall said. “Regulations have now caught up with what our partners are offering. When we started selling, there was no regulatory approval. Our partners were moving forward because we believed the market would catch up,” he said.
More certifications coming soon
The company is working on certification in China in partnership with manufacturing powerhouse Foxconn and in Japan with Toyota Group. “We expect full regulatory approval there shortly,” he said.
Among other companies that work on wireless charging: