CES 2022: wireless power for everyone
We don’t need a stinky wall power, according to vendors leading the charge to usable long-range wireless power transmission
While wireless charging has been around for a while (like charging my iPhone in the center console of my Toyota), CES shows real power at real distances measured in meters, not centimeters. At one booth, I saw an infrared emitter charging a few automatic blinds six meters away across the booth, and toy trains running around the place without any power outlets: they are all charged wirelessly.
It’s not super efficient (10% at the moment), but with remote power applications (like LED lighting, game console controllers, etc.) consuming less power, this technology can changing the way we spin – or don’t spin – parisons. of things in the future. Plus, you won’t need tons of batteries to replace every year. Wi-Charge, for example, estimates that a single transmitter can help avoid replacing around 5,000 batteries over the life of the device. You’ll still have a charge, but they think it comes down to less than $ 1 a year to top up a phone. And you can get it right now … well, at least if you’re a big manufacturer. But it’s coming to you soon.
For security reasons, however, this means that an attacker could potentially place low-power transmitters pointing around a location for malicious sensors to pick up information and keep it powered on and transmit silently for an incredible amount of time. Since power transmitters operate in the infrared spectrum, as long as there is line of sight between the sensors, you have an ad hoc network. And since power transmitters sync with multiple endpoints requiring power, it can be multiple sensors powered by a single base station. It’s still limited by distance, but the range will improve in the future, not worse.
At CES in previous years, we’ve seen car charger concepts, but they had to be really close and seemed daunting to buy and implement. But they are getting better. Several vendors are promoting much more convenient car chargers (both wireless and wired) that can charge much more efficiently, and the price goes down.
A vendor, Nimbus, found a way to run a lot more power at distances of several feet, and found an electric motor running at the end of the receiving sensor. While this provider of higher power at higher distances is more of a rambling startup, it does some pretty impressive demos here.
For the consumer market, pricing is very sensitive, so if your remote charger costs five times what it’s looking to replace, it’s a non-starter. But as the combination of power needs of the remote device decreases and the efficiency and scale of manufacture increases, expect to see many more wireless charging devices appear.
One application that has caught on is supply chain and warehouse management, where their electric material handling vehicles (think “forklifts”) follow a set path to move materials, but return to a charging base. when they are at rest between operations. While this could have been handled by wiring a bunch of dedicated charging stations, if there is a wireless charging option that could provide small amounts of power nearby, the savings from not wiring a factory could be enough. important. Also, if you want to change the layout of the floor, you don’t need an electrician – just point the charger to another place.
With every new or better technology, there is a plethora of innovations and new ways of thinking about making everything secure. But hopefully we’ll see secure wireless networks take shape in places that were simply inaccessible or impractical before. At CES next year, we’ll likely see a few of them.