It would be great if in the living room or in the office, mobile phones, smart watches and other smart devices would charge as if by themselves, without wires and stands, albeit not too quickly. Xiaomi announced the creation of just such a technology, Mi Air Charge, modestly calling itself a world leader in technology. Millimeter waves, penetrating through obstacles (millimeter!), will be able to transmit 5 watts to several devices located at a distance of several meters from the directional emitter. The company’s video leaves no doubt in the minds of ordinary people: it already works! Can’t Apple with its army of engineers do something like that?

Users will be able to charge any device indoors from a distance

Against the background of this brilliant innovation, Apple and Samsung look pale and unconvincing. And Motorola on the same day, just a few hours after Xiaomi, demonstrated its own achievements in this area — so as not to look back and not become obsolete. Its technology contactlessly charges smartphones located at a distance of 80-100 cm from the power source.

However, these days you can shoot anything you want. You can only believe in real devices that you can buy and make sure that the claimed miracles actually happen in them. According to official Xiaomi information, this technology is not planned to be used in the company’s products in 2021. When it can be expected is unknown even approximately. Something is wrong here.

Is wireless charging possible at a distance?

Xiaomi video snippet

According to Xiaomi, Mi Air Charge’s patented technology uses an emitter (charger) with 119 built-in antennas. 5 of them determine the direction to the mobile device, 114 transmit electrical energy to this device in accordance with the beam directed at it.

«Only devices that support this charging method can be charged contactlessly, equipped with a beacon antenna, which is used by antennas that convert electromagnetic radiation into electrical current.»

In principle, this is possible, but the losses in this method of energy transfer are enormous. The most efficient way to transfer energy is through wires. The efficiency of inductive chargers, even the best of them, is one and a half times lower than that of wired chargers. If you used the method described by Xiaomi, the efficiency would be even less, at times.

And the video is not a demonstration of a real prototype of future charging. According to a Xiaomi spokesperson, it is not yet available. This is a staged video. This is a concept demo. But what they showed is wonderful, great, it’s the first thing that those who have not yet encountered wireless chargers think of when they hear about them. Has no one ever thought of them? And when will it become a reality? Tell us what you think about this charging method in the comments or in our Telegram chat.

Contactless charging station built into a chandelier, February 2016

Apple Wireless Charging

Something very similar happened to the developers of the very first iPhone. It was a device from the future and attracted crazy ideas. And then there was a whole problem, real and outrageously boring: the iPhone battery lasted for several hours with careful use of the device. With a heavy load, the charge will melt in an hour or two. Then the idea was rejected, but the patent application was filed (January 15, 2007) and not forgotten.

They returned to him in the early 2010s. The chargers of the time did not suit Apple, and the company was looking for its own ways. In 2015, the company received patent #9,086,864 describing Apple-style exercises. In 2016, Energous, with which Apple was rumored to be actively working, achieved success in this area.

Energous’ remote charging technology never caught on

Other companies were doing this, investing time and money in this concept — the idea was too attractive. But alas. Nobody managed to achieve the minimum acceptable level of consumer properties from these devices. Naturally, the relative position of the remotely charged device was determined, and the beam carrying the energy was directed precisely at it. In 2017, projects in this area began to close, and Apple closed the project in the summer of 2016. They say that it was planned to include a unique charger (and a charging station for it) in the iPhone 7/7+ — it did not work out. In order not to look stupid, Apple decided to create an unprecedented charger. It was supposed to be called «Aviation». But we remember how it all ended.