New wireless iPhone device charges batteries from a distance


We’ve all experienced that frustrating feeling of being cut-off in the middle of an important call or text, because our phones have run out of charge. But a new device is set to leave all that behind, as it can charge your smartphone from a distance, without any wires.

The MagMIMO wireless charger has the capacity to fully charge an iPhone 4 battery in just five hours, and from 12 inches away. Developed by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), this charger is unlike any other wireless devices, as it does not need to be in contact with the owner’s phone.

Dina Katabi, the lead researcher on this project, explained that with typical wireless charging products, the phone has to actually rest on the device:

“With charging pads you have to remember to take your phone out of your pocket and place it on the pad, positioned in exactly the right way. In our vision we wanted to have people’s phone charge the minute they are sitting next to their desk: they go to a meeting, they come back, the phone starts charging again,” she said.

The way the MagMIMO works is similar to that of advanced Wi-Fi systems, which can detect when a computer is connecting to them and they then boost their signal in that direction. The MagMIMO does exactly the same, but uses magnetic fields instead of radio waves. Inside the device there are many coils that generate this magnetic field. Once a phone is placed within that field, the device then detects the phone and begins to send out a stronger magnetic frequency that works to charge the phone.

The MagMIMO charging device has been developed to compliment smartphones, which already have a built in coil, and could therefore be charged using this device. It could also prove to be of benefit to many wearable devices, that typically have a small battery space, and need charging on a daily basis. With the MagMIMO, wearers would not even have to take their devices off for them to recharge.

The device was debutted at the International Conference on Mobile Computing and Networking in Maui, Hawaii, where Katabi stated:

“MagMIMO consumes as much power as existing solutions, yet it can charge a phone remotely without being removed from the user’s pocket.”

Katabi and her colleague Jouya Jadidian tested prototypes of the device by connecting a small wire coil to the iPhone’s charging port. When the magnetic field induced a current in this coil the phone recharged.
Tech analysts are already commenting on the need for wireless charging devices, as Ross Rubin from the Reticle Research in New York City stated:

“The dream is that we’d never have to worry about charging our gadgets again,” Rubin says. “Wireless power would be like Wi-Fi, in just about every home and many public places too.”

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