This section of the FAQ defines industrial-scale wireless power-at-a-distance. It 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.
What is industrial-scale wireless power?
Industrial-scale wireless power, a category that Reach has pioneered, is a particular type of wireless power-at-a-distance. In addition to being safe, reliable, and easy to use, which is expected of any wireless power solution, industrial-scale wireless power is distinguished by four additional characteristics:
- “Wi-Fi” Range. As mentioned, an industrial-scale solution has distance. Reach’s solution works at similar ranges to your Wi-Fi network. In practice and as with Wi-Fi, the effective distance will vary based on the infrastructure, but it roughly translates into tens of meters. Wireless power can be effective at much greater – grid level – distances as well, and Reach is expanding on our prior projects with the U.S. Government to demonstrate this capability in practice.
- Lots of Power. It’s not just low wattage Internet of Things (IoT) devices that need power. An industrial-scale solution can power a broad range of devices found in an enterprise or industrial environment, including high-wattage cameras, tools, small robots, and sensors. Most other companies’ solutions are focused on devices that use less than one watt of power, thus failing to meet broader demands. Reach can power devices covering a wide range of power requirements from milliwatts to tens of watts – more than ten times greater than the status quo.
- Support for a Multitude of Devices. Like Wi-Fi, an industrial-scale wireless power network needs to be point-to-multipoint (P2MP). By contrast, a point-to-point (P2P) powering configuration is little more than an extension cord, inadequate given many endpoints on a manufacturing floor or other enterprise setting. Exploiting non-line-of-sight capabilities, the Reach P2MP transmitter detects, authorizes, and powers all user-approved devices within a given environment.
- Intelligent. An industrial-scale solution must be smart, efficiently maximizing power to multiple devices, collecting, and analyzing relevant operational data, and offering value-added information to end users who need insights on device failures or those that are using too much power. Reach’s algorithms optimize power to each device and our management system reports operational data, which enables optimized deployments.
Who can use industrial-scale wireless power?
Wireless power is in demand across almost all industries, including retail, manufacturing, logistics, and defense. Industrial-scale wireless power 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 industrial-scale wireless power?
A industrial-scale wireless power 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