Ditch your smartphone charging mats: Pi charges from 12-inches away
The convenience of being able to charge your device wirelessly is a key selling point of both the new iPhone X and the iPhone 8 models. Of course, Android users have been enjoying the Qi wireless charging standard that Apple has finally adopted for some time now. If there is a minor inconvenience to this tech, it is that it requires you to place your device on a charging stand or charging mat to work. Move it off the mat, and there goes your charge too. Not so with the new Pi wireless charger developed by engineers working out of MIT.
The technology works using the same resonant induction charging method that is used by Qi. The key difference is that Pi has been able to develop a beam-forming algorithm that directs a magnetic field to where each of up to four devices is sitting. Devices closest to the Pi wireless charging station charge the fastest, but they can still charge anywhere up to 12-inches away (above, to the side or below). The maximum power output is also just 20W, but this has allowed the Pi to be certified as safe by the FCC.
The Pi startup has received over US$3.5 million in seed funding and is expecting to ship the device in 2018. At this stage, the plan is to sell the device at below US$200. The company is also looking to partner with companies who might be interested in building the Pi technology into their devices. We can see the technology potentially playing nicely with smart speakers like the Google Home, or Apple HomePod, which could double as Pi charging stations. Either way, this is an exciting development and one that may finally see us ditch both our cords and our charging mats.