Wireless power for gaming controller and digital luggage tags

Wireless power for gaming controller and digital luggage tags

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

The grip automatically charges when within feet of Powercast’s PowerSpot radio frequency (RF) wireless power transmitter, so users never have to dock their controllers, plug into power, or stop playing due to a low battery.

Grips on the market today are simple plastic accessories that Nintendo Joy-Con game controllers snap into that make them easier to hold.  Powercast has added contactless wireless charging functionality to create intelligent grips (left, right and double-controller versions) that charge Joy-Cons and double as a backup battery pack.  

“Many of us at Powercast are Nintendo Switch gamers, and we often found that we’d let our batteries die by forgetting to dock our controllers,” said Dr Charles Greene, chief operating and technical officer of Powercast. “Realizing our technology could solve the problem, we developed a product that lets the Joy-Cons charge without docking when you walk away from a gaming session. Our vision is to enable long-range, true wireless charging where consumers simply place all their PowerSpot-enabled devices within range of a PowerSpot transmitter in their home or a public place”

Powercast’s Powerharvester receiver and a battery are embedded in the grips. The Powerharvester harnesses power sent over the air to charge the embedded battery, which then charges the batteries in the Joy-Cons until they are fully charged. The grips also act as a backup battery pack, keeping the Joy-Con batteries topped off when out of the transmitter’s range for about 38 hours of gameplay on one charge. The grips receive power when placed within about two feet of the PowerSpot transmitter, achieving a full charge between gaming sessions. An LED illuminates when the grips are charging and turns off when they’re done.

A Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) connection enables intelligent wireless charging where power is only sent as needed. The grips request power from the transmitter when their batteries are low, and tell it to stop when charged. Up to 30 enabled devices in the charging zone will automatically connect and receive power, sharing the transmitter’s three-watt (EIRP) output. Instructions included with enabled devices will show their recommended charging distance and time.

Powercast will also showcase several wirelessly powered consumer products developed with partners at the CES show next week. The first example is ViewTag’s reusable, updateable digital luggage tag, which British Airways is expected to make available to its passengers beginning early 2019. Passengers can check their bag in from anywhere via their Bluetooth-enabled phone, and then simply drop it off at check-in. The embedded technologies enable swift check-in with future bag-tracking capabilities built in as well. Batteryless printed electronics products jointly developed with PPG will also be on display, including LED-based wireless illumination solutions for smart consumer packaging, smart identification (ID) cards, and reconfigurable retail price tags.

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