Wi-Charge will wirelessly power up your toilet flushers…and more

With a PowerPuck screwed into a lightbulb socket or inserted into a wall plug, power can be transmitted over infrared to receivers in door locks and other devices. (Wi-Charge)

Wireless power company Wi-Charge will be showcasing a long-range wireless charger for IoT devices at CES 2020 in Las Vegas.

The company’s charger is called PowerPuck, which can either plug into a wall outlet or screw into a lightbulb socket to deliver power to compatible receivers up to 30 feet away.

Airports and stadiums with dozens of bathrooms could use the devices to power automatic flushers on toilets and urinals or on-off faucets, eliminating the need to replace batteries or make hardwire power connections. “There will be tremendous savings for facilities managers,” said Yuval Boger, chief marketing officer in an interview.

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Other applications include power for door locks or even lights and other devices in a home.

The PowerPuck is just slightly larger than a Nest thermostat. The receivers are smaller than a credit card and can be embedded into devices that need to be charged.

The PowerPuck uses infrared beam technology to transfer power, which Wi-Charge has branded as AirCord. It is certified safe by Underwriters Labs and 100 countries, Boger said. The PowerPuck sends a thin beam of infrared light “which travels in a nice beam that doesn’t get wider,” he said. “The power doesn’t change with the distance.”

Wi-Charge, based in Israel, designed the specialty transmission chip in the PowerPuck. The product is already shipping to companies that are expected to release products in 2020. Potential partners include home security vendors, makers of smoke detectors and devices that are smaller than a smartphone. 

Some applications like automatic faucets could be constantly charging, so the duration of a charge wouldn’t matter.

“When people realize you don’t need a cable or to install or replace batteries, we’ll see amazing apps,“ Boger said. “Think of the how many bathrooms are in an airport where you might need to replace batteries for 30 devices in a single room? For homes, there might be 20 to 30 billion units needed.”

Other wireless charging technologies convert electrical power to radio waves or ultrasound or magnetic waves, but Boger claimed Wi-Charge is the only company that uses infrared light. Many of these alternatives are limited in the amount of power they can deliver over a distance.  

A single PowerPuck transmitter is expected be much less than $100 while each receiver will be about $10. For a $200 device, that would be an incremental cost for the receiver.

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