Over-the-air, far-field RF charger gets FCC approval for consumer devices
Creating a coverage area like Wi-Fi, a Powercast transmitter automatically charges enabled devices when within range. The transmitter uses the 915-MHz ISM band to send RF energy to a tiny Powercast receiver chip embedded in a device, which converts it to direct current (DC) to directly power or recharge that device’s batteries.
Powercast is to begin the production of its standalone PowerSpot charger and is also offering a PowerSpot subassembly that consumer goods manufacturers can integrate into their own products. The compay envisions that lamps, appliances, set-top boxes, gaming systems, computer monitors, furniture or vehicle dashboards that are readily wired to an electricity source could all become “PowerSpots” able to charge multiple enabled devices around them.
“Consumer electronics manufacturers can now confidently build our FCC-approved technology into their wireless charging ecosystems, and offer their customers convenient far-field charging where devices charge over the air from a power source without needing direct contact, like inductive charging requires, or near direct contact, like magnetic resonance requires,” said Powercast’s COO/CTO Charles Greene, Ph.D.
The PowerSpot creates an overnight charging zone of up to 80 feet free of wires or charging mats. Enabled devices charge when in range, but don’t need direct line of sight to the PowerSpot. Powercast expects up to 30 devices left in the zone on a countertop or desktop overnight can charge by morning, sharing the transmitter’s three-watt (EIRP) power output.
Charging rates will vary with distance, type and power consumption of a device. Power-hungry, heavily used devices like game controllers, smart watches, fitness bands, hearing aids, ear buds, or headphones charge best up to two feet away; keyboards and mice up to six feet away; TV remotes and smart cards up to 10 feet away; and low-power devices like home automation sensors (window breakage, temperature) up to 80 feet away. An illuminated LED indicates devices are charging and it turns off when they’re done. Audible alerts indicate when devices move in and out of the charge zone.
The PowerSpot transmitter uses Direct Sequence Spread Spectrum (DSSS) modulation for power and Amplitude Shift Keying (ASK) modulation for data, and includes an integrated 6dBi directional antenna with a 70-degree beam pattern.
The PowerSpot is 7.3″ long x 2.1″ tall x 1.4″ wide, production units are expected in Q3 2018 for about $100 from distributors Arrow Electronics and Mouser Electronics. Once PowerSpot reaches mass production, Powercast projects a $50 ASP from major electronics stores or from consumer electronics manufacturers offering it as a charging option.
Powercast – www.powercastco.com/powerspot