We’ve come a long way since having to stretch coaxial cables for token-ring networks — most devices shipped today don’t even have a wired network connection. It’s a different story for power, with every bedside table, desk and airline seat having a USB cable flopping around near it. Israeli startup Wi-Charge wants to change all that by beaming up to one watt of power wirelessly to devices across homes, offices and commercial locations. The company told me it has just inked a mysterious deal with Belkin, and we can expect the first wireless power device to show up from the accessories manufacturer later this year.
The company paints a vivid picture of all the situations where charging cables don’t make a lot of sense — in particular in low-draw situations where you would typically use an alcaline battery or a rechargeable battery. One such example was an electric toothbrush charger — bathrooms are getting sleeker and better designed, but the charger cables are an eye-sore.
“I’ve seen a million-dollar bathroom with ugly power cords,” says Ori Mor, Chief Business Officer and Founder of Wi-Charge, encapsulating a use case. “When people talk about wireless charging, they talk about proximity charging. In 2018, we received a CES Best of Innovation award for charging an iPhone from a few meters away, but that was a bulky transmitter. We went on for another few years to miniaturize it. Now we are finally deploying our technology. We started with commercial applications — we developed a simple LDC display with our receiver inside. There is wireless power with a 10-meter range deployed in commercial settings.”
One power transmitter can transmit to a wide number of receivers, and commercial users are less sensitive to pricing, so Wi-Charge was able to run a number of trials and test installs.
“In line with our continued commitment to deliver the best charging experience to our customers, we are excited to uncover the full potential of Wi-Charge’s unparalleled over-the-air wireless charging technology,” said Brian Van Harlingen, CTO, Belkin. “The future of charging has been transitioning from wired to wireless for years now and we anticipate over the air wireless charging to accelerate this evolution.”
Wi-Charge is understandably excited about its Belkin connection.
“I can’t tell you exactly what Belkin is launching, which is a bummer, because it’s a center-stage consumer product. Belkin is super interesting because of several things: It is a consumer company that is super aggressive on the timeline, and they chose a perfect application,” explains Mor. “Belkin does aftermarket accessories to charge other devices, and they do powerline products, smart home products, etc. This allows us to give them an unfair advantage for [wireless power]. I think it’s time. Everyone is waiting for wireless power.”
The Wi-Charge team tells me that the Belkin tie-in is for a specific product, but that there’s a long list of other products in the hopper that would do very well with …….