Startup Pi introduces wireless charging through magnetic waves
On Monday, Silicon Valley youngsters Pi claimed they had developed the world’s first wireless charger that does away with mats or cords to charge devices.
Pi chargers operate on standards charging technology used in Android or Apple smartphones developed to be powered up wirelessly. Pi chargers, about the size of a small table vase, uses magnetic waves to charges the smartphones.
Magnetic fields are an ideal way to safely send energy to portable electronics, said Pi chief technology officer Lixin Shi, who co-created the charger with John MacDonald.
MacDonald and Shi were graduate students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology when they met and began to collaborate on the project about 3.5 years ago.
The trick was bending magnetic waves to find smartphones, the co-founder said during a presentation at the TechCrunch Disrupt startup scrum in San Francisco.
“The hard part was figuring out how to make magnetic charging more flexible, multi-device and extend its useful range,” Shi said.
“It took us over a year to complete the mathematical proof that makes it all possible.”
The pair figured out how to shape the magnetic field so energy could be beamed to smartphones placed or in use within a foot of a Pi.
The magnetic field of Pi’s are relatively weak, far less than the level used for medical imaging, but allow the devices to be charged at full speed, MacDonald said.
A number of tablets and smartphones could wirelessly charge on a desk if a Pi charger were placed near the people working together.
In Silicon Valley city of San Bruno, Pi set up shop and the co-founder said they raised $3.5 million in a seed funding round led by SoftTech VC managing partner Jean-Francois Clavier.
Pi devices would begin shipping next year and be priced “well below $200.”, MacDonald promised.