Some Android smartphones have had some form of wireless charging for years now. Many have heard of Qi wireless charging, but PMA has been around for a while as well. There was a surge in popularity for wireless charging in Android phones a few years back, but then the trend seemed to die down. Now with the renewed interest in Qi wireless charging technology thanks to the Apple iPhone X, a new startup company wants to capitalize on that interest with what they call the Pi Charger.
The Pi Charger promises to extend wireless charging distances up to 12 inches in any direction. According to co-founder John Macdonald, they’re able to increase the distance of Qi wireless charging thanks to a beam-forming algorithm that lets them safely direct a magnetic field to wherever the device is sitting.
Of course, charging speed will still depend on how close the devices are to the Pi Charger. If it’s right next to it then it will charge at full speed, but charging gets slower the further away it gets. The product debuted in the TechCrunch Disrupt Battlefield event this week, and was demonstrated to work at its advertised range with 5 devices – 1 tablet and 4 smartphones.
The company has already raised $3.5 million to bring this product to market. The company says it will be available “sometime in 2018” and that it should be “well under $200” when it is launched. Pi is even entertaining the possibility of building charging pads for devices such as the Google Home, or phone cases for devices that do not natively support Qi wireless charging.
As you can see from the feature image above, the charger isn’t your typical wireless charging pad that we’re used to seeing these days. While this isn’t as adventurous as the whole room charging technology that companies like Energous have been showing off at tech conventions over the last few years, extending the wireless charging distance by even a couple of inches will make these kinds of products more enticing to consumers.