After covering CES for 10 years, nothing I've seen at the show has me as excited about the future as Ossia's wireless charging technology. The company's developed a way to deliver power to your gadgets the same way internet is delivered by wi-fi, and one of the first real-world applications of the tech is a AA battery that may never need replacing.
We first had a demo of Ossia'a Cota wireless power technology at CES 2016 with an iPhone, wrapped in a special case, that was able to charge in mid-air thanks to a nearby wireless power transmitter that looked like a glowing blue trashcan.
A gross simplification of Ossia's Cota over-the-air charging technology, which is explained in more detail here, is that the transmitter broadcasts a directed and concentrated RF signal towards a given device in a room, which is absorbed by the gadget's own RF antennas inside, and turned into usable power. If that device doesn't have a Cota RF antenna inside it, as no gadgets on the market currently do, you'd need to use a bulky case on a smartphone, for example, to make it compatible with wireless power.
Unfortunately, when you look at how long it took a company like Apple to embrace and include induction charging on the latest iPhone, it's going to be a long time before a technology like Ossia's wireless power will be incorporated into devices by OEM manufacturers, freeing us all from charging cables.
But that's where the Cota Forever Battery enters the picture. Featuring the exact same size, form factor, and power output of a traditional AA battery, it can be inserted into a battery-powered device to instantly and easily make it compatible with Cota wireless power transmitters. Imagine never have to change the batteries in your TV remotes ever again, or not having to stay on top of countless IOT devices in your home that are constantly demanding a charge.
Putting the Cota technology into a AA battery, which is technology even your grandparents' grandparents are familiar with, is a clever way to help improve adoption of this tech. But the unfortunate reality is that it's still going to be quite a few years before you'll be able to upgrade your home, and all of your gadgets, with wireless power.
Since CES 2016, the Cota transmitters have been reduced in size to non-descript panels you can hide on the ceiling or on a wall, but Ossia doesn't sell them to consumers yet. The early adopters of this technology will most likely be those with commercial applications in mind, like stores and factories, before you'll see it showing up in homes. And device-makers aren't going to even start considering incorporating wireless power technology until the transmitters are more ubiquitous. The Cota Forever Battery will undoubtedly help expedite the rollout of wireless power, but it's still a long ways off.
The future just needs to hurry up and get here already.
Correction: This article originally claimed that the Cota system delivered wireless power only with a line of sight. It doesn't need line of sight.
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