CES 2014: WiTricity Announces New Wireless Charging System Design for iPhone 5/5s

Wireless power firm WiTricity today announced the release of a reference design for its new wireless charging system aimed at the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5s. Moving beyond existing induction power transfer technologies such as Powermat that require direct contact with a charging pad, WiTricity's system supports power transfer over short distances using magnetic resonance, allowing charging pads to be kept out of sight such as mounted on the bottom surface of a desk.

witricity_iphone

The WiTricity charging system for the iPhone 5/5s includes a wireless charging hub and a charging sleeve that fits an iPhone 5 or 5s. Similar to other protective covers, the WiTricity sleeve quickly slides onto an iPhone 5/5s and is powered when in proximity to the WiTricity charging hub. Capable of charging two phones concurrently, the charging hub can be placed on top of a table as an upright or flat charging pad, or mounted underneath a table or desk for charging through the surface. By mounting the charging pad under a surface, smartphone users are freed from the tangle of charging cords and cluttered desktops.


We first explored Apple's connection to WiTricity in July 2011 after it was reported that Apple was working on a "new way of charging" the iPhone, and while that way turned out to simply be the Lightning connector introduced in the iPhone 5, Apple does clearly have an interest in wireless charging and WiTricity's technology in particular.

Patent applications from Apple have outlined how the company could use something in line with WiTricity's technology to allow a computer such as an iMac to serve as a wireless charging hub, with accessories and other devices such as keyboard, mice, and iOS devices able to be charged simply by being in close proximity to the iMac. Shortly after the publication of a key Apple patent application on the concept, WiTricity even demoed how such a system would work.

WiTricity's system announced today is a reference design not meant for direct sale to consumers, but it will allow the company to partner with a variety of other firms such as device manufacturers, accessory companies, and furniture makers to explore implementation of the technology.

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Top Rated Comments

mattopotamus Avatar
137 months ago
oh...my nexus 4 did that without a case :P

seriously...no one wants to put a case on their phone to achieve wireless charging.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
roland.g Avatar
137 months ago
If it doesn't need a case, that's great. But honestly, what is so hard about plugging in your phone. If it has to be within a certain proximity to the base, you might as well plug it in. I can't imagine this charges faster and would probably charge slower than a typical wired connection.

For something like an iWatch it makes sense, but for a phone not as much.

In 3 years if I can have an Apple designed charging station/caddy for my kitchen that charges phones, iPads, iPods, and they all just have to sit on the counter within 5 feet, that would be welcome. But this stuff is just baby steps novelty.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Lapidus Avatar
137 months ago
Let's just wait for Apple to implement this so people without the ugly case can also use it :)
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
andrewpturko Avatar
137 months ago
This is awesome, now just time for apple to integrate it as an official feature and fix that ugly design.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
pgiguere1 Avatar
137 months ago
oh...my nexus 4 did that without a case :P
No, it didn't.

What your Nexus 4 did was inductive charging, which WiTricity is not.

WiTricity is resonant electromagnetic charging, which allows charging from a greater distance (and with any orientation) compared to inductive charging.

Current implementations with a small form factor aren't really efficient yet, but we could eventually see that tech be used to say, charge your phone while it's in your pocket as you enter a room. This would have a significant impact on how people charge their device as opposed to inductive charging, which isn't all that different from an old-fashioned dock in terms of usage.

You can see a relatively old demo here (http://www.ted.com/talks/eric_giler_demos_wireless_electricity.html) (skip to 8:30 for smartphone demos), which shows the potential the tech when using bigger coils. Hopefully we'll see that level of performance in smaller form factors soon.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jsalda Avatar
137 months ago
Nikola Tesla would be proud that his technology is finally becoming mainstream; 100 years later.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)