Xiaomi Air Charge claims it's capable of 5W wireless charging over several meters, but...

Humza

Posts: 825   +161
Staff member
Bold claims: When it comes to gadgets, nothing is truly wireless unless there’s freedom of movement in the user experience. Wireless earphones accomplished this feat a few years ago, and if you ask Xiaomi it seems that wireless charging has done so as well. The company says its new Mi Air Charge technology can remotely charge multiple devices (5W each) over several meters without interference from physical obstacles.

Counterpoint: While it’s great to see innovation and the advancement of technology, this Xiaomi announcement is purely marketing hype and it will almost certainly never hit the market. From an engineering perspective, the efficiencies of these transmitters are so low that this device would likely require 1000W+ of input power to deliver 5W to a phone. Unless the phone is held at a precise position, no power will be delivered. That means you can’t put your phone down on a table, you can’t turn it, and you can’t cover it with your hand. On top of that, cost could easily be $1000+. Announcements like these come along every few months and without fail, they never amount to any real product.

The Qi wireless charging standard that most electronics employ these days still requires the host and receiver to be in very close proximity, accepting no more than 4cm (1.6-inches) of distance for charging. And while power output has been gradually improving over the years, companies like Xiaomi have been coming up with their own proprietary fast-charging wireless solutions that have been recently touching an insane 80W, though with the distance limitation still in place.

In its latest announcement, the Chinese conglomerate revealed Mi Air Charge, a technology which it says allows for true wireless charging “within a radius of several meters.” The in-house developed tech uses phased antennas for locating and steering radio waves to the receiving device that also has a built-in antenna array for converting these waves into electrical energy for charging.

Xiaomi also notes that Mi Air Charge can simultaneously juice multiple devices at 5W, and that physical objects do not interfere with the tech’s charging efficiency. The company aims to make it work with smartwatches, wearables, and smart home products like desk lamps and speakers. Don't expect, however, for Mi Air Charge to appear on the market anytime soon since a Xiaomi executive tweeted in a response that the tech won't be arriving on consumer products this year.

It remains to be seen how Mi Air Charge will affect Xiaomi's hardware prices going forward and whether users will trade their fast-charging equipment (cables, power banks, wall chargers) for 5W truly wireless charging. The company might also need to address concerns around safety and actually ship Mi Air Charge to prove that "it's not science fiction, it's technology."

Editor's note: Counterpoint added, written by William Gayde.

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Julio Franco

Posts: 8,766   +1,662
Staff member
Counterpoint added this morning:
While it’s great to see innovation and the advancement of technology, this Xiaomi announcement is purely marketing hype and it will almost certainly never hit the market. From an engineering perspective, the efficiencies of these transmitters are so low that this device would likely require 1000W+ of input power to deliver 5W to a phone. Unless the phone is held at a precise position, no power will be delivered. That means you can’t put your phone down on a table, you can’t turn it, and you can’t cover it with your hand. On top of that, cost could easily be $1000+. Announcements like these come along every few months and without fail, they never amount to any real product.
 

duckofdeath

Posts: 293   +393
If they use omni direction transmission, but it is possible to find device and direct transmission, but I doubt they can do it.
Bluetooth 5.1 allows for bidirectional centimetre accurate location detection. That said, it will probably be tough to get a radio laser beam device approved by FTCs. I mean, it sounds like a recipe for a potential remote controlled device able to cause harm or death. (read last week's news about Apple's wireless chargers)
 

Uncle Al

Posts: 8,001   +6,775
Wasn't this something Nikola Tesla was working on for a while ? I seem to recall reading he had visions of over the air power delivery.

True but Tesla's vision was to be able to send electricity LONG distances without the use of wires. There is some speculation about the distance but he was able to build and operate a successful "generating station". After his death all of his notes, examples, etc. were ceased by the US Govt. and disappeared.
 

Uncle Al

Posts: 8,001   +6,775
Does it come with free cancer risk? 🤔

That is the perpetual question that keeps being asked. According to the "makers" all of these systems are completely safe but there has never been a truly independent verification. Having worked with DOE for quite a few years I can say that it is of great concern to them. While this is not "ionizing" radiation, it still is radiation and effects from prolonged exposure have not been disclosed although it is known that it is a topic of investigation by the DOE. If you were to compare it to the old radar units used back in the 60's thru 80's it could be a serious danger as illustrated by the reports of how many police developed premature brain cancers due to the transmission cone being stationed just outside their vehicles next to their head.
 

Farkinell

Posts: 137   +206
Finally a use for my tinfoil hat!

On a serious note non-ionising radiation can still cause localised heating, even if it’s just a fraction of a degree. The long term results of this heating, such as in the brain, are still poorly understood.
 

colemar

Posts: 13   +6
All of these wireless charging ideas are based on Tesla's ideas. Yes.

No, they are based on the laws of electromagnetism like Lenz and Faraday laws, ultimately Maxwell equations. And this is why wireless energy transport will never be efficient, despite Tesla's hopes.
I could make an exception for a laser beam in the vacuum.