Pi, a Silicon Valley start-up company claims to have created world’s first contactless wireless charging technology. Aptly known as Pi Charger, the device can charge multiple devices, up to a distance of 1 feet in any direction, wirelessly – no charging pad either!
While wireless charging isn’t new as pad-based wireless chargers have around for several years, this Pi Charger, however, is gaining points with its “contactless” wireless charging feature. And the fact is, charging via a pad is still kind of a pain — you can’t really use them when they are being charged and you need a charging pad for every device. Also, move your phone a few centimeters off the pad, and charging stops. But with Pi, there is no need to plop your phone on a pad.
Developed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) graduates, the new charging technology is not the full-room charging concept, but it provides a good bit more flexibility over a pad. The device (shaped like a cone with its tip cut off) uses the same Qi charging technology, based on resonant inductive coupling – incorporated into Apple and other wireless charging devices. Pi adds contactless charging capabilities with a special beamforming algorithm that lets them shape and direct magnetic fields around the device. That means, instead of needing to put your phone directly on it, you can just put your phone or tablet closer to the Pi device.
The Pi device can charge four devices (or more) at the same time and can deliver up to 10W of power per device. However, the devices you add further would charge at reduced power.
The Pi Wireless Charger is compatible with a variety of Android and Apple devices through a charging case that includes the resonant receiver. Qi-enabled smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S8/ S8+, iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and X will be able to work with Pi without any special accessories, but other handsets will require a special Pi-compatible charging case.
“The hard part was figuring out how to make magnetic charging more flexible, multi-device, and extend its useful range. It took us over a year to complete the mathematical proof that makes it all possible,” CTO Lixin Shi said in a statement.
When available in the market, the Pi wireless charger is expected to cost around $200. But the company is offering the first 314 people who reserve the product via the company’s website, a $50 discount code and it is expected to show up by 2018.