Charles Greene, Ph.D, COO & CTO
In an ideal world, we wouldn’t have to think about charging our mobile devices. Infrastructure embedded in the environment would automatically detect our devices, check their battery status, and charge them as needed. This concept is not as far-fetched as it might sound. Such infrastructure has already been developed and deployed, initially in vertical industrial, commercial and military markets, paving the way for future wireless charging in smartphones, laptops, and other consumer devices.
Leading the charge is wireless power pioneer Powercast Corporation, established in 2003. The company is decorated with awards such as Best of CES, Best of Sensors Expo and EDN Hot 100 for its over-the-air, power-at-a-distance technology for multiple device charging. This RF-based technology eliminates or reduces the need for batteries, and enables completely un-tethered devices that need no wires, cables or charging mats. After receiving FCC and IC approval in 2010 for its Powercaster®
transmitter (FCC ID: YESTX91501, IC #: 8985A-TX91501) which can charge enabled devices up to 80 feet, the company has been helping customers solve remote wireless charging challenges in industrial, commercial and military applications, and is now expanding into consumer electronics applications.
“Wireless charging needs are broad,” explains Powercast’s COO and CTO Charles Greene, Ph.D. “Consider hermetically-sealed washable wearables, wireless sensors for condition monitoring, reusable and interactive smart bands for cruise lines or theme parks, smart cards or key fobs, autonomous communication devices, and devices in the home such as smartphones, mice or game controllers.”
How Powercast’s customizable technology works:
transmitter and Powerharvester®
receiver chips combine to enable a Wireless Power Infrastructure which manufacturers integrate into their device designs. The Powercaster transmits radio frequency (RF) to the Powerharvester embedded in a device, which converts it to direct current (DC) to directly power that device or recharge its batteries.
Our Powerharvester receiver efficiently converts RF to DC (up to 75 percent efficiency), amid changing parameters like distance, battery charge
“Our PCC110 Powerharvester receiver chip very efficiently converts RF to DC, with up to 75 percent efficiency, even amid changing parameters like distance and state of battery charge,” says Greene. Reduction in maintenance, reduction of failure points, and convenience are amongst the key points Powercast addresses for its customers.
Powercast has been refining and cost reducing its technology over years of experience with real-world customer deployments, since its first transmitter was FCC approved in 2010. Powercast’s IP portfolio includes 41 patents worldwide (21 in the U.S.) and 29 patents pending.
“Each customer’s challenge is different,” mentions Greene. “Some needed to directly power battery-free wireless sensors in industrial machine condition monitoring where battery replacement would be difficult or impossible.” Greene further elaborates that the firm’s technology has allowed manufacturers to completely seal their waterproof designs, eliminate charging ports to simplify and reduce the cost of their designs, and also eliminate the largest failure point—the connector.
“Our company is growing and expanding into the consumer electronics market, where we envision manufacturers to increasingly integrate our solution in the months and years to come,” says Greene. The company has developed a new Powerspot®
transmitter for this market which is currently undergoing FCC testing. It’s included as a subassembly for evaluation in Powercast’s new P1110- EVAL-01 development kit, which contains everything needed for manufacturers to design wireless wearables, smart cards and sensor applications incorporating Powercast’s long-range wireless power technology.
Greene mentions his company’s long-term vision is to enable consumers to wirelessly recharge their Powercast-enabled devices simply by placing them within range of a PowerSpot transmitter in their homes or other public places. “Wireless recharging over distance is coming for consumer devices and Powercast will be leading in this area.”