Pi Brings True Wireless Charging To Qi Compatible Devices

Wireless charging has been around for quite some time now, even if Apple is fashionably late to the party. However, as the technology exists in the consumer sector today, there is definitely room for improvement. Well, a company called Pi is looking to advance the concept with a new device it is working on called the Pi Charger.

As wireless charging exists right now, a smartphone or other battery-depleted device sits on a pad (of varying sizes) that is plugged into the wall and begins to charge. If that device is lifted off the pad, the charging stops. It works and is still more convenient than having to connect a USB cable to a phone or some other gadget, but it's not ideal.

Pi Charger

The Pi Charger changes the game by ditching the pad in favor of a stylish beacon that looks a little bit like a Google Home speaker. Rather than place a phone on top of the charger, it sits next to it. And it can charge multiple devices at the same time. It does not offer full-room charging at this time—perhaps a future iteration will—though devices can be up to about a foot away, and on any side of the Pi Charger.

Like the popular Qi chargers that exist already, the Pi Charger users resonant induction to charge nearby devices. What makes the Pi Charger's implementation different is a beamforming algorithm. This allows the Pi Charger to identify a compatible device and direct a magnetic field to where it is sitting. It is similar to how modern routers with beamforming support work.

Pi Charger Home

"What’s at the heart of this is this algorithm that lets us shape a magnetic field," company co-founder John Macdonald told TechCrunch. "It’s an old idea but, the real genius behind this, my co-founder Lixin [Shi], he was able to reduce this problem that was so complicated that you’d need several minutes of compute time on the latest i7 processor to solve. He came up with these matrices that could prove that you could get to an optimal solution in just two clock cycles on a simple microcontroller."

In a demonstration of the device, the Pi Charger was shown charging four smartphones and a tablet at the same time. That is not only impressive, it is potentially game changing. The Pi team is hoping to release the Pi Charger sometime next year for somewhere south of $200.