A significant number of smartphones are now able to charge wirelessly. Google Nexus 7, Blackberry Priv, and Microsoft Lumia are among these models, while the Apple iPhone 7 and Samsung Galaxy S5 only require an adapter. Unfortunately, wireless charging is still quite restricted; you need to place your device on a charging pad, in direct contact with it. If you place the phone any farther from the pad, it will stop charging. This defeats the basic premise of wireless charging. Thankfully, companies like Pi are taking the wireless charging technology a step further.
The Pi Charger
Pi is developing Pi Charger, which will have a multiple device charging capability. Pi Charger can simultaneously charge multiple devices placed within about a foot from the Pi charger in any direction. Resonant induction powers the device, as seen in the Android phones and new iPhone models.
Pi’s Co-founder John MacDonald says that a beam-forming algorithm enables this capability. The device directs a magnetic field that allows longer distances from the charger. The algorithm is what lets the team shape the magnetic field, John added. Co-founder Lixin Shi reduced the compute time needed in processing the field. Shi’s matrices discovered an optimal solution that reduced the time to two clock cycles.
The company is definitely gearing towards a more refined wireless charger. Pi demonstrated this at the 2017 TechCrunch Disrupt Battlefield by charging four phones and one tablet. During the demo, Pi charger was able to successfully charge all the five devices together within the specified range. The company has just raised $3.5 million, and they are targeting the charger’s shipment by 2018.
Both co-founders named the company Pi in reference to MIT, their alma mater. MIT celebrates the pi number on March 14. John and Shi started the project in an MIT laboratory and the company’s name is an ode to that. This laboratory is known as CSAIL or the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. Shi and John both met in an entrepreneurship class. The chance meeting resulted in their partnership, which further led to the company, Pi.