I hate charging my phone. Seriously. Looking for an outlet, finding the charger, trying to keep the phone off the floor so it doesn’t get stomped.
But what if you didn’t need to find a charger or an outlet? What if you could charge a phone, magically, through the air we breathe? That’s the Holy Grail of device charging, right?
A company called Ossia is working on it. In fact, it’s demonstrating it. It’s called the Cota remote wireless power system, and it’s been under development for five years. Last September, Ossia charged an iPhone from 10 feet away of a Cota charging station in front of more than 2,000 people at the Disrupt SF conference. TechCrunch shot video:
Now, the company’s engineers have improved on what was shown at Disrupt. Now, the company claims, one Cota charging station can charge multiple devices at the same time. Now, the phone and the charging station don’t even need to be in sight of each other.
Ossia says it proved these new capabilities in front of a bunch of investors and technologists recently. It charged a smartphone from a distance of 40 feet through two walls and closed doors. That emits a “holy crap” from us.
Think public charging stations are cool? Imagine if they could hide these wireless charging stations behind walls at airports or restaurants. How about in an office, or at home? You could power up your laptops and smartphone and any other device at the same time, without searching for outlets, without fishing for your chargers.
One problem: The Cota technology needs to be built into your devices. And that’s what Ossia is currently working on: getting manufacturers to include Cota receivers in smartphones, laptops, etc.
How does it work? The company says in a press release:
Ossia’s patented smart antenna technology uses phased antennas to transfer power without the use of inductive coils, ultrasonic waves, magnetic resonance, charging pads or mats. The Cota technology is designed to charge many devices simultaneously, regardless if a device is stationary or moving. Designed for an effective radius of 30 feet, a single Cota charging station can charge or power all the battery-operated devices in every room of an average home or office suite.
The Cota technology consists of two parts: a charger and a receiver. Cota receivers built into devices and batteries regularly send out beacon signals omnidirectionally. As the Cota charger receives these beacons, it returns focused streams of targeted signals, building pockets of energy at the exact locations of the beacons’ origins. This pinpoint precision targeting of energy safely and efficiently powers all Cota-equipped devices and batteries within its effective radius, even as they move around the room.
Cota is inherently safe. Tracking beacons use only about 1/10,000th the signal power of Wi-Fi, which itself is a low power signal. Cota’s energy pockets are created using approximately the same signal strength emitted by a mobile phone during a call. The laws of physics make Cota power signals naturally avoid anything that absorbs energy, such as people, pets and even plants.
We’ll keep an eye on this emerging technology and let you know if and when compatible devices are available. It’s likely to be a slow, gradual process, so we don’t expect it to happen this year.
This graphic from Ossia’s website gives you an idea of how powerful and pervasive this technology could be. For example, I’m always forgetting to charge my electric toothbrush!