Xiaomi’s smartphone air charging works over several metres

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Charging over the air sans any cables, pads or other accessories has long been theorised, with a few concepts and prototypes being developed over the past few years, but a real world solution was still hard to find. That’s still the case today, but Xiaomi has revealed a concept of its own with the new Mi Charge solution.

According to the Chinese firm, this wireless charging box can charge multiple mobile devices within a radius of several metres. How many metres precisely is unclear, but in the promotional material for the Mi Charge, it is shown working in a living room. As such, it could also be well served in a small office environment, but it remains to be seen what the best use case is for the Mi Charge box.

As for how it works, Xiaomi explains that the system employs a multi-phase antenna to deliver charge over millimeter-wide waves, with it capable of transmitting up to 5W remote charging to a compatible mobile device.

“Xiaomi’s self-developed isolated charging pile has five phase interference antennas built in, which can accurately detect the location of the smartphone. A phase control array composed of 144 antennas transmits millimeter-wide waves directly to the phone through beamforming,” the company’s announcement details.

“On the smartphone side, Xiaomi has also developed a miniaturized antenna array with built-in ‘beacon antenna’ and ‘receiving antenna array’. Beacon antenna broadcasts position information with low power consumption. The receiving antenna array composed of 14 antennas converts the millimeter wave signal emitted by the charging pile into electric energy through the rectifier circuit, to turn the sci-fi charging experience into reality,” it adds.

Given the numerous certifications and regulations this over air charging technology will need to go through, it is unclear when Xiaomi will, or indeed if it will, make it ready for market.

“In the near future, Xiaomi’s self-developed space isolation charging technology will also be able to work with smart watches, bracelets and other wearable devices,” the company’s announcement ends.

With several manufacturers choosing to ditch chargers in packaging for new devices, much to our chagrin, perhaps the Mi Charge is the kind of solution where such a scenario makes sense, but we’ll have to wait to see.

Robin-Leigh Chetty

Robin-Leigh Chetty

When he's not reviewing the latest smartphones, Robin-Leigh is writing about everything tech-related from IoT and smart cities, to 5G and cloud computing. He's also a keen photographer and dabbles in console games.