Wireless charging will replace your fridge with self-cooling Tupperware

1164564 autosave v1 refrigerator
Katarzyna Białasiewicz
Ikea introduced wireless charging furniture a few years ago — a lamp and pad that could charge your phone without wires, though in some cases you needed a special case to make the Qi technology work. Ditching cables sounds like a great idea, but Ikea’s products still require contact with your phone to transfer juice. Is it wireless? Sure, but it’s still a sort of tether.

For several years now, there’s been buzz about wireless charging that doesn’t require you leaving devices on a special mat or nightstand, however. Energous and Ossia are two companies competing to bring wireless charging to your home, office, and the airport. They have different approaches: Energous hopes to power objects in a transmitter’s line of sight (and is rumored to be partnering with Apple), while Ossia uses lower power but can charge devices that are in a different room. Ossia recently showed off its idea for a ceiling tile that works as a transmitter for Cota, its wireless-charging platform, but neither company plans on having products available for purchase quite yet.

“Your slippers would tell you, ‘Easy on the chocolate.’”

But imagine that, a few years down the line, there is a mass adoption of wireless charging. What would that look like? It’s not just your devices that would be getting charged — everything would be a device. Your coffee mug would keep itself warm all day, and your fork would keep track of how much you’re eating. We wouldn’t even need fridges, says Ossia founder Hatem Zeine. Instead, we could use temperature-controlled tupperware to keep things cold.

“We would be able to speak to our doorknob and ask it for the weather,” he told Digital Trends. “Your slippers would tell you, ‘Easy on the chocolate.’” Companies making self-darkening glass have approached Ossia, looking for ways to make smart windows without wires or batteries.

Getting there

With a technology as new as this, Zeine says there will be four stages to adoption. First, your phone would be retrofitted with something like a charging case that could work with the transmitter. Next, device makers would start building specific devices that work with the transmitters; something that normally uses AA batteries could instead embed the wireless-charging technology. Devices begin to transform in the third phase, becoming smaller and lighter because they don’t need to house a bulky battery. Finally, designers start coming up with all new devices that wouldn’t be possible if they ran on batteries or had wires attached.

If there’s going to be billions of IoT devices in the next few decades, Zeine doesn’t see them running on batteries or being plugged into an outlet.

We’d all have to buy the transmitters for our homes at a price of several hundred dollars.

The last few stages require mass adoption of the technology. If your phone only works with a transmitter, and you can’t plug it in when you’re at the airport or get to your hotel, that’s not really appealing. Right now, Ossia’s transmitters need to be a certain size to work — big and flat like a ceiling tile or picture frame, or narrower and taller, like a tower. While Zeine thinks manufacturers should be able to absorb the cost of adding the tech to a new phone or electric toothbrush, we’d all have to buy the transmitters for our homes at a price of several hundred dollars. The cost would eventually drop to around $200, he predicts.

There’s something in the air

Recently, Ossia passed FCC safety tests that regulate Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. The company says Cota devices emit signals in the Wi-Fi 2.45GHz spectrum and bounce off walls, while the transmitter receives the signal and sends it back along the same path. Neither signal passes through people or pets, which limits RF radiation and absorption, according to the company. Keeping it safe means using lower wattage, meaning it will take devices a while to charge; plugging it in may be faster.

Yet Zeine thinks batteries have had their day. “When batteries were invented, Napoleon Bonaparte was alive,” he says. “Imagine that.”

Emerging Tech

Future smart clothes promise to keep you the perfect temperature at all times

Regulating your body temperature can sometimes be tough. Engineers from UC San Diego have developed heating and cooling wearable tech which could be embedded into future smart clothing.

Learn how to boost your smartphone battery life with these tips

Our smartphones are an integral part of everyday life, but to keep them functioning at their best for the long haul, it's critical to preserve battery life. Here are some easy steps you can take every day to boost your phone's battery life.
Home Theater

The best alternatives to the Powerbeats Pro (and they’re cheaper too)

The Beats Powerbeats Pro might be getting a lot of attention but at $250, they're also a serious investment. Luckily, there are plenty of great alternatives that are great for your workout and your wallet.
Smart Home

Mount your TV correctly with the best stud finders of 2019

Endlessly searching for a stud in your wall can be a chore. Fortunately, these stud finders are both high-tech and straightforward, meaning you can drill, nail, and hang with the utmost confidence.

Best Memorial Day smart mattress sales from Sleep Number, Beautyrest, and more

Memorial Day is one of the best holidays when it comes to online sales. If you're looking for a new mattress, a smart mattress may be right for you. Check out some of the best Memorial Day smart mattress sales of the year to take your smart…
Smart Home

Amazon Memorial Day sale: $210 off Arlo Pro wireless security camera kit

Weatherproof and wireless, the Arlo Pro security camera gives you the freedom to monitor any area or room inside or outside your home. Amazon dropped the price of the Arlo Pro HD security camera kit that includes everything you need.
Smart Home

Amazon Memorial Day deal drops price of August Smart Lock for homes to just $99

Smart lock are a strong start to any smart home security system. Now, in Amazon’s Memorial Day deal, score an August Smart Lock for the low price of just $99, down from $150. Lock in this deal now and start your summer off smart.
Smart Home

Before you sell your Google Home Mini, here's how to factory reset it

If you’re thinking about swapping out Google's entry-level smart speaker, you can get a few bucks in cash or trade-in value out of your device. You’ll need to wipe your device first though. Here's how to factory reset a Google Home…

The best Amazon Prime Day 2019 deals: Everything you need to know

Amazon Prime Day 2019 is still a few months off, but it's never too early to start preparing. We've been taking a look at the best discounts from previous Prime Days to give you our predictions of what to expect this year.
Smart Home

Walmart offers sweet deals on Owlet Smart Sock 2 baby monitor

Parenting is an amazing experience, but wondering how newborns and infants are at night can be nerve-wracking. Baby monitors can ease some of the stress by letting you check on the baby without entering the room.

Amazon slashes prices on Nest and Ecobee smart thermostats for Memorial Day

If you’re tired of constantly adjusting your thermostat and you want a smarter (not to mention more eco-friendly) way to keep cool this spring and summer, then these Nest and Ecobee smart thermostat deals are just what the doctor ordered.
Smart Home

The best stand mixers of 2019, including models at every price range

Making dough is hard work, but the right stand mixer can make free up some time (and your hands). Here are our current favorites, from the likes of KitchenAid, Sunbeam, and several other manufacturers.
Smart Home

Amazon slices the price on Instant Pot DUO Plus 60 for this Memorial Day sale

Amazon dropped the price on the Instant Pot DUO Plus 60 6-quart, 9-in-1 multi-use cooker for this year's Memorial Day Sale. The right size for 4-to-6 people, the 6-quart DUO Plus 60 is a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, and more.

Roomba and Shark Ion robot vacuum cleaners get big price cuts for Memorial Day

Your Memorial Day BBQ is all planned out, but what about the post-party cleanup? If you act quickly enough you might be able to get some robot help in time for the cleanup thanks to a few good sales on robot vacuums this weekend.