In this blog post, you will learn about “Xiaomi Air Charging”, its possibility, how it works, and many other interesting facts related to this technology.
Xiaomi has just announced the biggest leap in smartphones for the last decade. They built a wireless power station that can charge your phone over the air such that you had never need to plug it into anything. It basically figures out where your phone is within a room and then it fires a narrow beam towards it, which can be converted by the phone into charge.
The announcement of Xiaomi Air Charging is made official in a tweet. Other companies have already tried this and failed because air charging is hard. Even with this new Xiaomi one the power limit per device is kept at 5 watts. 5 watts is the amount of power that the original iPhone from 2007 charged with and in a market where phones with a cable are hitting 120 watts funnily enough.
How “Xiaomi Air Charging” works?
For this to actually work you need not just the base station but also you need a phone that has a beacon antenna and is active all the time to constantly communicate with the base station to make sure it knows where to fire the beam of charge. But also 14 other antennae just to be able to convert that air charge into actual battery juice.
Possibility of this technology?
The method by which this works is completely wiped away the possibility of this working with your existing phone. Probably any phone having all of these antennae active all the time raises another concern. The biggest existing problem with the current standard of wireless charging is the fact that it’s super inefficient compared to a cable that is directly connecting the power source via a highly conductive metal. Every time you try and charge through one of these pads that energy has to pass through not just the metal but almost always a sheet of plastic from the charger and the sheet of glass on the back of your phone. These are not highly conductive materials and as a result much less of the energy you put in actually ends up. As the charge on your phone and much more of it ends up as heat, which is not just a complete waste of resources but is also actively bad for your battery’s health.
The air charging is even more wasteful because of all of the inefficiencies of normal wireless charging, we have now got to use even more energy to not just locate and keep track of where the phone is but also potentially to fire this beam across 5 meters. The charging station is the size of a fridge and it probably costs as much as your phone itself. At this stage all this was Xiaomi saying, we’re working on it the exact same way we saw their mix alpha, which never came out the same way we saw their triple folding phone.
We have seen this before and even though it hasn’t been successful. The simple fact Xiaomi announced that they’re working on it and is itself big news because Xiaomi is one of the few companies around the world, which actually has the scale and the money to do it properly. Also, Xiaomi’s taken it further than anyone else, their charging station can actually charge multiple devices at once and also they’re saying it doesn’t matter if other objects come in the way.
Now, this is kind of confusing because this whole air charging thing is based on the same millimeter waves. The 5G is definitely affected by interfering objects, so if Xiaomi has actually figured a way to get around this then fair play to them, and this whole big problem of the charging power is capped at 5 watts.
Another point to be clear is the radiation that is being given off is non-ionizing and means it’s going to start destroying cells in your body like sitting next to an x-ray machine might but to some extent this is untested territory. This is using the same millimeter wave technology as a 5G base station and so it’s not of course at nearly the same scale. If you’re going to be sitting right next to it for 10 hours a day so let’s wait and see what kind of safety features are announced.
The most interesting aspect of this is that when air charging gets better and now that a company like Xiaomi is investing heavily in it. There is no doubt that it will get better and don’t need batteries anymore. It’ll start with low power devices that you only keep in your homes like tv remotes and smart speakers. But soon enough the smartphone brands will start either massively shrinking the amount of battery they come with and just keeping it as a backup reserve or just getting rid of the battery entirely. This is better news than it sounds, batteries are not just one extra component that we end up having to pay for on a phone but also the main contributor towards both thickness and weight. Batteries are the primary reason that we have to keep swapping our phones every couple of years. Batteries are the fastest degrading component, so air charging very possibly may be the future but the real turning point will come when a big company announces that they’ve got a retail-ready version of this technology.
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