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The Pi charger is a first step toward truly wireless charging

by Eric Frederiksen | September 24, 2017

The best part of Qi charging is not having to plug your phone in. Just set it down and forget it. The worst part is everything else. It doesn’t work through certain materials. The surfaces we have to set our devices on require absolute precision to get a charge. And using a phone while it’s charging on a flat surface is annoying to say the least. The real dream is proximity wireless charging, where simply being in the same room as a charging device will top up our devices. A startup called Pi – work on the name, guys – is working on one of the best solutions yet for a wireless charging solution.

Like the company, the device is called the Pi (no Raspberry here). The Pi isn’t the first wireless charging device to be announced, but the company says it’ll be the first to market. While the full-room charging fantasy is yet to be fulfilled, the Pi looks like it’s going to be a step in the right direction.

For it to work, your device needs to be pretty close by. To get a full-speed charge, you need to keep your device about a foot away from it. The team isn’t being specific on maximum distance just yet, but it sounds like it would be possible to be a bit further out and still pull a charge. There are a few upsides, though, that put the Pi ahead of some other wireless charging devices and make it worth keeping an eye on. The Pi device uses the same resonant induction charging that Qi devices use, so any Qi-compatible devices will be able to charge when in proximity to this thing. No special attachments or new technology are needed – this is compatible with existing tech.

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To make the charging work, the device uses beam-forming tech that allows it to point the magnetic charging field directly at the device. The team has demonstrated that the phone can be moved around within proximity of the device and maintain its charging connection along with up to three additional devices. The field itself is pretty weak, meaning that you’re not going to be sitti the g in proximity of a strong electromagnet all day. The company says the Pi follows FCC safety guidelines.

This is just a first step for the company. As a standalone device, it’s a bit of a tough sell with the short range and a price tag most likely north of $150. But Pi wants to partner up with companies like Google, Apple, and Amazon to get the tech into their quickly-multiplying smart speakers.

The Pi looks to be for early adopters right now, but if the company can get it off the ground it could be a great step toward truly wireless charging. You can register to reserve one at the source link below if you want to be an early adopter.

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Eric Frederiksen

Eric Frederiksen has been a gamer since someone made the mistake of letting him play their Nintendo many years ago, pushing him to beg for his own,...