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 very 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 similar?

Users will be able to charge any device indoors at 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 become obsolete. Its technology contactlessly charges smartphones located 80-100 cm from the power source.

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

Is wireless charging possible at a distance?

A fragment of the Xiaomi video

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

"only devices that support this charging method can be charged contactless, equipped with a beacon antenna, which is used by antennas that convert electromagnetic radiation into electric current."

In principle, this is possible, but the losses with this method of energy transfer are huge. The most efficient way to transmit 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, many times.

And the video is not a demonstration of a real prototype of the future charging. According to a representative of Xiaomi, it is not yet available. This is a production video. This is a proof of concept. But what they showed, Great, Great, is the first thing that comes to mind for those new to wireless chargers 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 the 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 here there was a whole problem, real and outrageously boring: the iPhone’s battery charge was enough for several hours with careful use of the device. Under heavy load, the charge will melt after an hour or two. The idea was then abandoned, but a patent application was filed (January 15, 2007) and not forgotten.

They returned to it in the early 2010s. Chargers of that time did not suit Apple, and the company was looking for its own ways. In 2015, the company was granted patent number 9,086,864, which describes Apple-style exercises. In 2016, success in this field was achieved by the company Energous, with which, according to rumors, Apple actively cooperated.

The technology of charging at a distance from Energous was not widely used

Other companies were also doing this, investing time and money in this concept — the idea was too attractive. But unfortunately. No one has managed to achieve a minimally acceptable level of consumer properties from these devices. Naturally, the Remote Charged Device’s relative position was determined, and the energy-carrying beam was directed at it. In 2017, projects in this field began to close, and Apple closed the project in the summer of 2016. They say that the iPhone 7/7 + was supposed to include a unique charger (and a charging station for it) — it didn’t work out. In order not to look stupid, Apple decided to create an unprecedented charger. It should have been called «Aviation». But we remember how it all ended.