Pi, a startup based in Silicon Valley claims that it has developed the world’s first wireless charger that can work from a distance. Until now, existing wireless chargers required you to put the smartphone on top of them to be able to charge wirelessly. However, Pi claims that users simply need to put their smartphone within a foot’s range of their charger and it would automatically begin charging the phone. There have been attempts to achieve this in the past, albeit without any commercial success.
Pi chargers are conically shaped and look like a small table vase, they don’t occupy much space either. These chargers use the standard charging technology, completely compliant with the way wireless Android and Apple smartphones are designed to be charged.
Pi sends magnetic waves to wirelessly charge smartphones placed nearby it. The company’s CTO Lixin Shi claims that, “Magnetic fields are an ideal way to safely send energy to portable electronics.”
Although it was already known that magnetic waves can charge smartphones wirelessly, Pi managed to pull off something which has never been done before. The co-founders boasted that the trick behind making this possible was to bend the magnetic waves so that they reach the smartphones. “It took us over a year to complete the mathematical proof that makes it all possible,” they said, at the TechCrunch Disrupt event.
However, this didn’t happen overnight, co-founders Lixin Shi and John MacDonald have been working relentlessly over the past 3.5 years to achieve this. “The hard part was figuring out how to make magnetic charging more flexible, multi-device and extend its useful range,” they said. Both of them were graduate students at MIT when they met and have been graduated since the collaboration began.
A Pi charger can efficiently charge multiple smartphones placed near it with ‘full speed’, the company claims. Recently, Apple introduced AirPower, a charging mat which lets you wirelessly charge multiple Apple devices like your iPhone, Apple Watch and AirPods simultaneously. However in this case, the devices need to be on top of the mat for wireless charging, unlike Pi.
Pi is expected to be shipped next year and will most probably be priced “well below $200”.
Smartphones have already started coming with wireless charging feature. Even the newly launched iPhones – iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X – all posses the ability to be wirelessly charged. If Pi’s technology works as intended, it has the ability to become the standard way of charging phones in the future. It is exciting to witness progress in the wireless charging space after so long.
Do you think wireless charging is an essential feature in a smartphone? Will you pay for a charger to wirelessly charge your phone? Let us know in the comments section below.