This section of the FAQ defines “wireless power-at-a-distance” and addresses common questions surrounding its advantages, timeliness, target industries, and intended applications. To learn about Reach’s distinctive approach, please see the three categories that follow below.
What is wireless power-at-a-distance?
Unlike common wireless charging systems found in the home, which require the power-delivering device and power-receiving device to be touching or almost touching, wireless power-at-a-distance (also known as distant or far-field wireless power) delivers power to devices tens of meters away, through the air. The easiest way to understand it is to think about Wi-Fi. Wireless power-at-a-distance does for power what Wi-Fi does for data. Just as Wi-Fi uses radio frequency (RF) to send data, the Reach system uses RF to send power. Wi-Fi sends power as well, but at microwatt levels. Reach uses that same mechanism to send higher levels of power safely and efficiently using directed beams. And, yes…it is safe! See “Is Reach wireless power safe?” below.
What are the advantages of wireless power-at-a-distance?
Wireless power at-a-distance is set up to transform how we deliver power — from the grid, to buildings, to devices. Imagine never having to change another battery in your home, facility, or store. Imagine being able to place devices wherever you want — even hard-to-reach places — without having to worry about excessive infrastructure investments, cable and wire routing, electricians, and losing your most valuable asset: time. Imagine devices that are constantly working with no downtime. Wireless power-at-a-distance promises a more agile world with reduced maintenance, limited infrastructure, and more functionality than ever before.
Why wireless power-at-a-distance now?
There are four primary and interconnected factors enabling broad-based deployment of wireless power-at-a-distance today:
- Low costs. High-frequency transistors are now cheaper than ever, so deploying large, adaptive antenna arrays in commercial settings is finally a reality.
- High demand. With the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT), the need for wireless power-at-a-distance is stronger than ever. A growing number of low-power devices are being distributed throughout commercial and residential environments to collect data and provide edge decisions.
- Technical progress. Research has led to advances in signal processing, algorithm design, low-power communication, and high-frequency RF-DC converters — all necessary for wireless power-at-a-distance.
- Regulation. The FCC opened the door to certify higher wattage wireless power in early 2022, removing a significant barrier to deployment.
Who can use wireless power-at-a-distance?
Wireless power is in demand across almost all industries, including retail, manufacturing, logistics, and defense. It supports Industry 4.0, the fourth wave of industrial computing. Any companies or industries that are actively leveraging wireless data — e.g. 5G, Wi-Fi, or I/O-link wireless — or Industrial IoT (IIoT) can greatly benefit from the flexibility and convenience of wireless power.
What are some intended applications of wireless power-at-a-distance?
A wireless power-at-a-distance system, given sufficient modularity and extensibility, can support a wide variety of applications and power levels. Examples include:
- Displays. Powering small, interactive displays such as OLED displays and electronic shelf labels, and some retail lighting
- Cameras. Powering wireless cameras such as proximity-activated security cameras, quality-assurance cameras, and inventory-monitoring cameras
- Asset Tracking. Charging asset tracking tools, such as active RFID tags, Bluetooth beacons, and barcode scanners
- Sensors. Supplying power to industrial sensor fleets in manufacturing plants, retail environments, distribution centers, labs, or hospitals
- Inventory Tools. Charging smart pallets, intelligent scales, small robots, and other inventory management mechanisms
- Security. Supplying power for hard-to-reach devices, such as motion sensors, smart locks, smoke detectors, surveillance drones, etc