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Wireless charging from 30 feet away -- does startup have a game changer?

Lucas Mearian | Sept. 11, 2013
Ossia exec says Cota device can wirelessly charge multiple devices through walls, around corners

A startup Tuesday unveiled technology it claims can can simultaneously charge multiple different devices in a house, even through walls and around corners, by using the same radio spectrum as other wireless standards, such as WiFi and Bluetooth.

"You don't have to put that device in every room. You just put it into one room in your house and it will power all your devices," said Hatem Zeine, founder of Ossia, developer of the technology. "It's like your WiFi signal. If you can get a WiFi signal, you'll be able to get power."

After six years of development, Ossia today unwrapped the new Cota wireless charging technology that it says will be available to consumers and enterprises by 2015.

Zeine, demonstrated the technology with a prototype at the TechCrunch Disrupt technology conference in San Francisco this week.

In a video posted by TechCrunch, Zeine held a 2-in by 2-in by 1-in cube-shaped dongle device, plugged it into an iPhone 5 via a standard charging cable and held it in the air until the device indicated it was wirelessly charging; the audience erupted in applause.

"For me, wireless means remote, automatic, effortless," Zeine told the audience.

The Cota wireless charging system includes a wireless charger and a wireless charger receiver -- either a dongle device or tech integrated into a product, such as a smartphone or battery. While it has yet to be miniaturized, Zeine said the wireless technology will eventually be small enough to fit onto the motherboard of a smart phone or even in a AAA battery.

Zeine said the wireless charging technology should appeal to enterprises, such as oil and gas companies, where removing power wires from equipment could lead to greater safety. "Imaging the impact of Cota on the medical, retail, and the hundreds of devices [that] we call the Internet of things. The possibilities are endless," he added.

The wireless charging technology can deliver 1 watt of power at a 30-foot distance. It would to span an entire home and could power multiple devices, Zeine said.

"Cota is inherently safe, as safe as your WiFi hub," Zeine said. "A Cota-enabled device sends out a beacon signal that finds paths to the charger, which in turn returns the power signal through only those open paths back to the receiver, avoiding people or anything that absorbs its energy."

The Cota wireless charging does not depend on line of sight, that is, it can go through walls and around corners without interfering with other electronic equipment in its path, Zeine said.

According to Zeine, the Cota wireless charging technology was discovered by accident. While experimenting with wireless signal management, Zeine, a physicist, discovered that it's possible to focus a signal on a receiving device.


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