LAS VEGAS - Imagine if you never had to worry about changing the batteries in your remote control. Or having your phone charge while you were walking around the house.
These seemingly futuristic scenarios could become a reality sooner than you might think, thanks to Ossia's Cota wireless charging.
The most promising product on the horizon is what the company is calling its "Forever Battery," a AA or AAA battery that would gets its power from the Cota Tile. This transmitter would sit in your house, perhaps mounted on a wall, and deliver juice over the 2.4-GHz spectrum to a tiny receiver in the battery. (In the future, the company will be moving to the 5.8-GHz band.)
Unlike other over-the-air wireless charging technologies, like Energous, Cota isn't limited to just a few feet. The company's CTO, Hatem Zeine, told me that you'd need just a couple of Cota Tiles to cover a 3,000-foot home. The max output is about 3 watts close to the Tile, which would become milliwatts further away from the base, but that's all you'd really need to keep your gadgets topped off.
In addition, Ossia's technology doesn't require line of sight. The Cota power receiver, whether it's in a battery, phone sleeve accessory or other device, emits omni-directional signals that bounce off walls and ceilings, but don't pass through people. I know this because I saw demo where the signal went around an Ossia employee to a nearby USB adapter equipped with one of the company's receivers.
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The Cota power system is also smart enough to deliver bits of data, so it knows which devices need power the most, and can prioritize accordingly. In fact, the company says that this prioritzation could be customized even further by using the cloud. So, for example, a wireless ISP could partner with a coffee shop to deliver free wireless charging to its subscribers -- so it wouldn't matter where you sat.
There's no getting around the fact that the Cota Tile is large. It will also be expensive at first, as Zeine shared that it could cost several hundred dollars when it hits the market. But over time, the technology could be built into everything from TVs and refrigerators or furniture.
Ossia will keep refining its technology in the background, but in the meantime it's also working towards putting Cota on wheels. At CES 2018, the company announcned a partnership with Motherson Innovations to bring its power system into the interior of vehicles. And Motherson works with everyone from Mercedez and Audio to Ford and Toyota.
There are more applications for Cota charging on the immediate horizon, and you could see it where you shop soon. The company is working with retailers to develop electronic price signs that can be changed on the fly. So someone like a Best Buy could possibly price match with Amazon in close to real-time. Cota would give these signs the juice they'd need to operate using tiles installed in the ceiling or somewhere else.
It's hard to say who is going to win the next stage of the wireless charging war and become the next Qi. But there is something very compelling about the idea of a Forever Battery and a system that can deliver power at long distances. Ossia wants to become the Wi-Fi of wireless charging, and it looks to be well on its way.