Every cellphone owner has experienced the depressing moment when their battery dies at the most inconvenient of times. Veteran Israeli entrepreneurs Victor Vaisleib and Ortal Alpert joined together to create a radical solution to charge a phone without a charger – using infrared light.
Founded in in 2010, the Wi-Charge group has been working to create a safe wireless power transmitter that allows clients to charge their devices, using infrared radiation. Wi-Charge explains: “Our mission is to render mobile devices self-sufficient and free the users of the burden of frequent charging.”
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Wi-charge will work with hotspots, which transmit energy via infrared light beams that are converted by a photovoltaic cell into the receiver. In short, phones will charge automatically, in the same way they currently access the internet having to connect to an external device.
Although still at prototype phase, Wi-Charge aims to release its first products within 12-18 months. Envisioning “proliferation of wireless charging hotspots in homes, offices, coffee shops, airports and other public places,” as Wi-Charge says, in about 10 years. According to the company, the receiver will first be provided as an accessory and over time become fully integrated into mobile devices.
At this stage, a transmitter placed on the ceiling can cover an area of up to 50 square-meters, but the company says that future transmitters could cover larger areas. The receiver placed on the phone can theoretically be as small as a contemporary mobile phone camera.
Wi-Charge claims that their charging times can compete with that of wired chargers. Furthermore, charging will become automatic and, therefore, less noticeable. The only requirement of the client’s part is a Wi-Charge receiver component.
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One would think that the usage of infrared radiation to charge your phone might result in an obvious health risk. However, according to the Wi-Charge creators the product is completely safe since the transmitter is physically incapable of delivering any power to a foreign object, and if anything blocks the infrared light beam, it automatically shuts down. The radiation can only be transferred to the receiver, or in other words, the electronic device. There is also no electromagnetic or radio frequency radiation involved, adding to the user’s safety, Wi-Charge claims.
A seasoned team and financial backup
Of the two founders, Alpert is the one who identified and developed the core technology of the system. Alpert previously founded founding Mempile-Israel, the optical storage startup company, in 2000, and was involved in developing algorithms for ClickSoftware.
Alpert was later joined by Vaisleib, currently the CEO. Before joining Wi-Charge, Vaisleib served as Vice President of the Fiber to the Home (FTTH) Business Unit at PMC-Sierra. Vaisleib joined PMC-Sierra in 2006 through the acquisition of Passave, a successful semiconductor startup company in the field of optical broadband communications, where he was founder and CEO. Prior to founding Passave, Vaisleib spent 15 years at the Electronic Research Department, a top research and development unit of the Israel Defense Forces.
Wi-Charge is partnered with Lightspeed, Norwest and Terra Ventures, though financial information is not available. The company is also working with equipment manufacturers on the development of the receivers in the appropriate form and price to best integrate into consumer electronic devices.