Xiaomi on Friday announced the Mi Air Charge, a new wireless charging tech as its proprietary technology. As its name suggests, Mi Air Charge is designed to let users remotely charge their electronic devices including smartphones without any cables, pads, or wireless charging stands. This is unlike existing wireless charging technologies like the ones based on the widely adopted Qi standard in which the power transfers wirelessly using inductive charging over a distance of up to four centimetres. Xiaomi’s Mi Air Charge is claimed to charge multiple devices “within a radius of several metres” — and even with physical obstacles. Despite the announcement, the tech will not become generally available in the near future, and remains in a concept phase.
To enable the new Mi Air Charge wireless charging experience, Xiaomi has developed an in-house isolated charging pile with a phase control array that consists of 144 antennas transmitting millimetre-wide waves. These waves go directly to the smartphone that requires charging through beamforming. The charging pile also carries five phase interference antennas to understand the location of the smartphone.
Xiaomi’s Mi Air Charge tech is only being showcased for now, with a Xiaomi spokesperson providing clarity on Twitter by saying that the Mi Air Charge is currently a tech demo and is not coming to any consumer products this year. It is currently unclear whether Xiaomi has applied for any regulatory approvals for the new wireless charging technology. The company has also not provided any details on whether its development has been tested for health risks. We’ve reached out for more details.
As Xiaomi is using a proprietary technology infrastructure, the smartphones that can work with Mi Air Charge will require an antenna array with a built-in beacon antenna and receiving antenna array.
“Beacon antenna broadcasts position information with low power consumption. The receiving antenna array composed of 14 antennas converts the millimetre wave signal emitted by the charging pile into electric energy through the rectifier circuit, to turn the sci-fi charging experience into reality,” the company said in a blog post.
The initial model of Mi Air Charge technology is said to be capable of delivering 5W remote charging for a single device within a radius of several metres. However, the company claims that multiple devices can also be simultaneously charged with each of them supporting 5W using the same technology. Xiaomi has demonstrated the new technology for smartphones, though it mentioned that it would work with smart watches, bracelets, and other wearables in the near future.
“Soon our living room devices, including speakers, desk lamps and other small smart home products, will all be built upon a wireless power supply design, completely free of wires, making our living rooms truly wireless,” the company said.
Similar to Xiaomi, Motorola appears to have its proprietary wireless charging technology in the works that could charge smartphones over the distance of up to one metre. A Lenovo executive posted a video on Weibo to showcase a prototype of the new technology that carries the Motorola One Hyper branding, without revealing any specific details.
In April last year, Oppo released a teaser showing an over the air wireless charging concept that it called FreeVOOC. The Chinese company released a video that highlighted the new charging experience on the Oppo Reno Ace Infinity smartphone. However, it didn’t receive an official launch.