Frequently Asked Questions

Understanding Wireless Power techonlogies

General

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 

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

Reach Capabilities

What does the Reach offering deliver? The answers below will give you a quick overview of our capabilities, such as power, number of end devices, mobility, and distance. Ask yourself: how would operations look if I could cut the last cord? How could wireless power transform workflows and generate efficiencies?

In short, the Reach wireless power-at-a-distance network is highly scalable and can typically deliver up to 50W to devices at Wi-Fi distances of about 30 feet. That said, Reach has demonstrated both more distance and more power in certain instances. The amount of power delivered depends on three primary factors: the size of the Reach router, the size of the Reach target, and the distance between them.

Yes, like Wi-Fi, the wireless power router is point-to-multipoint. It is designed to power multiple devices. With our current software release, the router supports more than 30 devices concurrently, including a mix of high and low power end points. That number will increase in future software releases.

Yes, Reach’s wireless power system supports this functionality. The current software is optimized for devices that move infrequently, stay within the circumference of the beam, or pass by a fixed location on a regular basis (i.e., pass through a set beam). If a target device moves, the power transmission stops until the device is stationary again. At that time, the system will re-optimize the wave transmission pattern to lock onto the device in the new location. Today, Reach supports devices that move, but not on-the-go devices. There is no hardware limitation, and in future software releases, the Reach system will track and power on-the-go devices.

Distance for Reach means tens of meters; we have optimized the system to match the distances seen in Wi-Fi. Just as Wi-Fi data speeds fall with distance, wireless power levels do the same. The effective range of our system depends on the power requirements of the receiving targets, the size of the targets, and the size of the wireless power router. Our modular system accommodates various sizes of the wireless power router and targets, allowing users to support a wide range of power and distance requirements.

Reach Technology

We get a lot of questions about what is under the hood. How does it work? The following questions address a few basic topics about Reach’s technology–system overview, radio frequency (RF) band, potential signal interference, and system efficiency–as well as how our approach compares with others.

Reach’s system is designed to transmit power at-a-distance. To do this, it uses intelligently and precisely-directed (beam-formed) radio frequency (RF) signals. The Reach system uses beam-forming technology to direct power to specific devices within its power/distance range: 10s of watts and 10s of feet. Unlike WI-FI, which broadcasts its RF everywhere, the Reach system sends tight beams of power only to devices registered on the power network.

While there are other approaches, such as lasers, RF offers many advantages, including point to multi-point, non-line of sight, larger coverage areas, higher modularity and flexibility, and lower cost. The advantages of Reach’s system are derived from partnering our algorithmic optimization methods with our extremely precise, low-cost adaptive antennas. Our patented hardware and software collaborate to maximize the power received by every target (receiver) in the network.

While there are other approaches, such as lasers, RF offers many advantages, including point to multi-point, non-line of sight, larger coverage areas, and lower cost. The advantages of Reach’s system are derived from coupling our algorithmic optimization methods with low-cost adaptive antennas. Our patented software maximizes the power received by every target in the network. 

Reach’s systems operate within the unlicensed 5.8GHz Industrial, Scientific, and Medical (ISM) frequency bands, which are defined by the ITU Radio Regulations. The ISM bands are set aside for purposes other than telecommunications. 

No, our wireless power system operates on the unoccupied edge of the unlicensed Industrial, Scientific, and Medical (ISM) spectrum band and transmits continuous-wave signals to transfer power. This means our system uses very little bandwidth — only a fraction of a single channel — and allows Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and all other wireless communication protocols to operate normally. Interestingly, nothing interferes with our power transmission either. In fact, any signals at our frequency would simply, albeit nominally, add to our received power.

The total efficiency of the system depends on a number of factors, including the size of the wireless power router, the size and number of targets, the distance and orientation between the router and targets, and the characteristics of the surrounding environment. The total efficiency of wireless power connection tends to be about half that of a wired connection, but it is important to look at the whole picture. For instance:

  • In low-power applications such as powering sensors, facility managers will see that the addition of wireless power will only marginally affect total power consumption. 
  • In higher power applications, the analysis must consider several questions, such as: 1) How hard is it to power these devices with cables? 2) What is the benefit of mobility? and 3) How much less equipment do I need now that I have eliminated charging downtime?
  • In low-power applications such as powering sensors, facility managers will see that the addition of wireless power will only marginally affect total power consumption. 
  • In higher power applications, the analysis must consider several questions, such as: 1) How hard is it to power these devices with cables? 2) What is the benefit of mobility? and 3) How much less equipment do I need now that I have eliminated charging downtime?

While most wireless power solutions rely on resonant coupling or induction, Reach’s solution is designed to deliver power at-a-distance. The Reach system uses intelligently and precisely directed radio frequency (RF) signals, the same signals used to carry Wi-Fi throughout your home or office. While there are other approaches, such as lasers, RF offers many advantages, including non-line-of-sight capability, larger coverage areas, higher modularity and flexibility, and lower cost. 

Reach isn’t the only wireless power company working with RF, but Reach’s system is the industry’s first enterprise-class wireless power network. It is more scalable and more powerful than any other wireless power system. Reach’s advantages lie in the unique way it generates and manipulates radio energy. To do this, Reach couples algorithmic optimization methods with extremely precise, low-cost adaptive antennas. Our patented hardware and software work together to concurrently maximize the power received by every device in the network, unlike other systems, which can only deliver power to one or two devices at the same time.

Reach isn’t the only wireless power company working with RF, but Reach’s system is the industry’s first enterprise-class system. It is more scalable and more powerful than any other wireless power system. Reach’s advantages lie in the unique way it generates and manipulates radio energy. To do this, Reach couples algorithmic optimization methods with low-cost adaptive antennas. Our patented software maximizes the power received by every target in the network, unlike other systems, which can deliver power only to one or two devices at a time.

Deploying Reach

This last section focuses on how wireless power solutions are deployed. The questions cover components, line of sight, control and monitoring, safety and signal penetration. Our technology solves tough challenges, but deploying Reach is easy, and comparable to Wi-Fi. Interested in setting up a trial? You can “reach” us at inquiries@reachpower.com.

Reach’s wireless power-at-a-distance system consists of three components: 

  1. Wireless power routers. These devices transmit the energy. They accept standard wall-outlet power and convert it into radio-frequency (RF) signals that can be precisely shaped and safely directed to wireless power targets (receivers). These targets then transform the radio signals back into usable power that can fuel devices.
  2. Wireless power targets. These devices are equipped with low-cost adaptive antenna arrays and patented power converters capable of receiving the wireless power and delivering it to the end device.
  3. Control dashboard. This is the SaaS-based or local management console that allows an administrator to monitor network performance, authorize power transmission to specific targets, and prioritize specific charging schedules, if desired. 

No, the wireless power router software finds the optimal paths radio waves should take to deliver power in any environment, even if obstacles sit between the wireless power router and the targets. The system often uses reflections native to the environment, which allows the wireless power router to deliver energy to targets without direct line-of-sight paths. If line-of-sight paths are available, however, they will offer higher performance than their non-line-of-sight counterparts.

No, the wireless power router software finds the optimal paths radio waves should take to deliver power in any environment, even if obstacles sit between the wireless power router and the targets. The system often uses reflections native to the environment, which allows the wireless power router to deliver energy to targets without direct line-of-sight paths. If line-of-sight paths are available, however, they will offer higher performance than their non-line-of-sight counterparts.

The SaaS-based or local Reach dashboard controls and manages all wireless routers in the network. The dashboard is accessible via a standard web browser and provides information to the user about which targets are receiving power and how quickly each of the targets is charging. The dashboard allows the user to monitor performance and enable power transmission to specific targets. Although it controls full authorization and deauthorization of devices, dashboard connectivity is not required to maintain power transmission (i.e. if the dashboard connection is lost, power continues to flow).

Yes. Our wireless power system includes a redundant safety system that protects all living things in the environment. In layman’s terms, the system detects when something moves into the edge of the power beam and disables or reroutes the energy before anything enters the beam itself. 

 

The best way to envision the system is to imagine that there is a perimeter sensor around the beam. If that sensor is disturbed, the beam cuts off. It is important to know that at this perimeter, the power levels of the beam are safe. In fact, they are roughly the same as the power levels of the Wi-Fi in your house. The Reach safety system allows our solution to meet the RF exposure limits set forth by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). These exposure limits are the same standards that must be passed by every wireless device sold worldwide. Further, our software features multiple layers of redundancy that disable the power transmission if any unavoidable obstructions or erroneous conditions are identified.

Reach’s wireless power-at-a-distance is very similar to Wi-Fi in this regard. It penetrates non-metallic material (wood, plastic, etc.) but metallic components disrupt the power delivery. It is therefore possible for wireless power to go through walls, doors, and floors. However, like Wi-Fi, passing through multiple walls will degrade the system’s performance. Although the energy will not pass through metal, it is also possible for the system to direct the power signal around metallic obstructions.