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Pi Charger Uses Qi Standard to Extend Wireless Charging Reach Beyond Current Mats

With the launch of the iPhone 8 and iPhone X, Apple added inductive wireless charging support to its mobile devices for the first time. While the feature brought Apple's phones up to speed with existing Qi-compatible charging standards, the announcement fell short of some expectations that this year Apple would introduce technology allowing iPhones to be powered wirelessly at a distance, rather than having to use a charging mat. However, Pi is a California-based startup that aims to break from that limitation with the Pi Charger – a cone-shaped tabletop device that combines Qi-based resonant induction with a special beam-forming algorithm that allows it to charge multiple devices within about a foot in any direction. The Pi might not reach the distances claimed by Energous' WattUp technology, which uses radio frequencies to charge devices from up to 15 feet away, but it does offer more flexibility than existing pads that devices must be directly placed upon. In a demo at TechCrunch's Disrupt event, the company showed that up to four Qi-compatible devices can be placed within a foot of a Pi and they will start charging. Devices can be located anywhere within a 12-inch sphere of influence around the charging hub and in different orientations. The closer the device to the Pi, the faster it charges, with a gradual drop-off in charging speed the further away the phone is. "Magnetic fields are the best way to send meaningful energy to phones, tablets, and other portable electronics," said Lixin Shi, Pi's CTO and co-founder. "The hard part was figuring out how to