While this year’s CES was dampened by the pandemic relapse, it still provided a podium for breakout tech-leaders to showcase their advancements and preview the year ahead in tech. At AirFuel Alliance, the main question we ask is “What do the products featuring wireless power at CES 2022 tell us about the market verticals and use cases ready for global adoption?”
So let’s get into it. What did CES 2022 show us about the future of wireless charging and tech?
A Maturing Wireless Power Market
First and foremost, we are seeing more products launching that utilize wireless power. While previous CES shows have showcased wireless power-enabled product demos and concepts, this year those early concepts are coming to life and getting to market. What is spurring on the development of wireless power-enabled products?
One of the factors driving commercialization of wirelessly charged devices is that the regulatory requirements are now well understood, in place, and have been demonstrated to be achievable. Just in the last few months, AirFuel Board Member, Energous, has received industry-first regulatory approvals in US, Asia, and Europe for their RF-based unlimited distance over-the-air charging solutions. Compliance with applicable safety and regulatory guidelines is essential to launching a product with wireless power, and companies like Energous are proving this is possible.
Adoption of wireless power is being accelerated by the increasing acceptance of Gallium Nitride (GaN) semiconductors. Utilizing GaN semiconductors enables wireless power solutions to use higher frequencies that are essential to achieving increased spatial freedom without compromising on overall system efficiency. AirFuel Alliance member companies like Board Member Efficient Power Conversion Corporation and GaN Systems are providing leading-edge GaN components that enable high frequency wireless power transfer. GaN Systems announced the world’s smallest charger, proving that GaN truly is poised to advance tech development as we know it.
Want to see the power of GaN? Look no further than Yank Technologies, another AirFuel Board Member, who is using GaN technology to integrate wireless power into automotives:
RF Power Transfer is in High Demand
When we close our eyes and picture the slick wireless power experience that has been promised to us, what do we see? We see a world without wires—where our tech gets charged discreetly without us needing to think about it.
One of the core pillars of that vision is to deliver power at-a-distance, similar to how we use Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. At CES 2022, numerous products using over-the-air charging were showcased. These products proved that wireless power at a distance is a must-have for several markets such as IOT sensors, wearables, and other low power devices that simply can not be moved to a charger. This trend was so well represented at CES, that WIRED wrote a whole article about companies who showcased charging at-a-distance products at CES 2022. The article featured Energous, who continues to lead the industry in RF-based solutions for products like hearing aids.
One of the buzziest products showcased at this year’s CES was AirFuel Alliance Board Member Samsung’s new TV remote. It uses RF waves to ensure the remote is always charged. No more hunting for batteries when the remote dies.
To build a more interconnected and “smart” global infrastructure, we must have sensors that are always-on, require minimal manual maintenance, and are battery-less. Atmosic’s CEO David Su gave a detailed breakdown of how the market for consumer devices and medical sensors will heavily rely on low-energy transfer.
Perhaps the most eye-catching demo at this year’s CES, BMW and E Ink showcased their partnership in the form of a wickedly cool color-changing paint job on a BMW electric car concept. The e ink technology moves dynamically using low-power electric fields and could help the car be more environmentally friendly. E Ink is also working on electronic retail displays that stay on from low levels of power received at-a-distance by a hidden transceiver.
We’ve already touched on how Energous is trailblazing the regulatory path with their AirFuel RF-based tech, but they have also been partnering with companies to bring more RF-equipped products to market. Whether it’s to develop always-on edge AI processors, monitoring solutions using IoT tags, or interoperable energy harvesting, more and more companies are looking to RF power technology as their charging solution.
Wireless Power at CES 2022 and Beyond
No one will say this year’s CES was “business as usual”, but it did deliver the same thing a CES conference always delivers: a stage for companies to showcase innovation and a barometer for the latest trends in tech. For wireless charging at CES 2022, we learned that:
- The path to market is mature and ready for companies building products with wireless power. Achievable global regulatory requirements are in place, GaN semiconductors have matured and are all around us, integrated solutions essential to build our ever shrinking devices enabling wirelessly charged products to achieve reasonable price points.
- Charging at-a-distance continues to grow and prove itself as a pillar of the user experience. From Wi-Fi to RF-based charging, over-the-air power transfer provides a true wireless power experience.
- Often in tandem with at-a-distance charging, low-power solutions make the steady step towards smart infrastructure possible, enabling devices from IOT sensors to wearables and medical devices.
Here at AirFuel, we’ll be covering all things wireless power in more depth on our blog and in our webinars, so stay tuned for updates.
Sanjay Gupta, PhD
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