As usual, this year’s CES show featured notable wireless power-enabled products and announcements. In this recap, AirFuel Alliance President Sanjay Gupta walks through the highlights of wireless power at CES 2023 and covers:
- RF wireless power is finally market-ready
- Adoption of wireless charging for autonomous devices (robots, drones) and micromobility products
- The recent release of the AirFuel RF and Qi2 standards
- Takeaways on what this means for the wireless power industry in 2023 and beyond
Let’s dive right in!
The Year of RF Wireless Power
For me, CES 2023 will be remembered as the year AirFuel RF wireless power became market-ready. Launched during CES, AirFuel RF is a new global charging standard that uses radio frequencies to transfer small amounts of power at a distance and is designed to meet the needs of modern sensors.
Energous and Atmosic displayed battery-free Electronic Shelf Labels, and I also saw numerous IoT sensors being powered from a wireless power transmitter located a few meters away.
Just pause for a moment to think about what this means. How cool is it to have door and window sensors, or environmental sensors like temperature, humidity, and BLE location beacons that will last for decades or more without needing batteries and the headache that comes along with them. Imagine a retail store where shelf labels are not paper stickers but electronic shelf displays (ESL’s) that can change every few minutes, all without ever having to worry about swapping batteries. Think about the positive environmental impact—billions of batteries every year that will not end up in a landfill. As our cities, stores, homes, and warehouses adopt always-on IoT sensors to become “smarter”, they can now turn to RF wireless power technology to keep them running without the need for batteries.
Now, you are probably wondering—we have heard about “wireless power like WiFi” for a decade. So what has changed? I cover this in detail in my recent conversation with Stacey Higgenbotham on her podcast Internet of Things. The short story is:
- Unified global regulatory framework that provides clear guidelines on the energy that can be transmitted and successful certification of the first-generation products
- Innovations in low-power computing and communication technologies that means there is alignment between the energy that can be received and what is needed to enable elimination of batteries
- Availability of integrated circuits critical to meeting the size and cost constraints
- A global standard for multi-vendor interoperability (AirFuel RF)
With the market now ready, I look forward to the new RF-enabled products this year will bring.
Micromobility and Autonomous Anything
Autonomous devices are continuing to find their ways into our lives. It is not just a robotic vacuum cleaner and toys now. On display at CES were Yarbo’s robotic snow blowers and lawn mowers. Wireless charging for this newer class of devices is more than just a nice-to-have, it is critical to their value proposition. After all, what good is an autonomous lawn mower or snow blower if a human still needs to manually “juice” it up?
These companies have learned that traditional contact-charging solutions are not practical or environmentally robust enough for their products. AirFuel Resonant wireless charging is the only solution that can meet the challenging requirements here.
The same is true for fleets of micromobility vehicles like e-scooters and e-bikes. Keeping these devices charged has been a costly exercise, but AirFuel Resonant technology is the perfect fit to reduce capital and operational costs. We covered this trend in my recent podcast episode with Bumblebee Power, who are developing wireless charging for e-scooters using AirFuel Resonant technology.
So whether it’s a muddy e-bike, a grass-caked lawnmower, or an ice-covered snow-blower, they can all receive power wirelessly and make the experience better for customers.
Inside the Automotive
Another highlight of CES 2023 was in the automotive space. Yank Technologies showcased a fully interactive wireless power vehicle cockpit, which offered multi-device charging and the ability to power automotive appliances directly without a battery on display:
Solutions like this show the capabilities of magnetic resonance wireless power technology. Yank Tech is continuing to expand their portfolio with new automotive interior and industrial products, and I am eagerly looking forward to what Yank has in store for us in the coming year.
Is the Qi2 Standard Really Wireless?
The Qi2 standard is designed to address the well-known limitations of Qi technology—namely poor system performance when the transmitter and receiver coils are not perfectly aligned. The standard specifies the use of magnets to achieve the desired alignment. While it certainly addresses the performance issues of the current technology, little was done to improve the consumer experience. I would argue that the current technology isn’t actually “wireless”, and perhaps even inferior to a wired charging solution.
The AirFuel RF and AirFuel Resonant standards offer true wireless power.
Both AirFuel technologies provide the freedom from wires that consumers crave and the ability to charge multiple devices simultaneously without compromising on charging speed, and the market is taking notice.
Another Successful CES for Wireless Power
Coming out of CES 2023, I’m energized and excited about where the tech industry is headed. For wireless power at CES, this will certainly be remembered as the year RF power entered maturity, and the new AirFuel RF standard will play a big part in enabling companies to integrate RF into their products. The EV and Micromobility markets are healthy and growing, with more products adopting wireless charging. And new tech standards for the industry will impact the global ecosystem of products for years to come.
Thank you to everyone who attended our VIP Networking event for leaders in wireless power at CES 2023, it was lovely to meet you all and to hear about the applications you are working on!
For any companies looking to integrate AirFuel RF or AirFuel Resonant wireless power technologies into their products, collaborate with peers in the supply chain, and gain access to technical specs and critical educational materials, membership in AirFuel Alliance is your next step. If you’re ready to join AirFuel Alliance or have questions about our technology for your products, schedule a call with me and let’s get started.
As always, for the latest wireless power announcements, events, and thought leadership, subscribe to our email list or tune into our podcast, Our World Without Wires.