This ‘power router’ can charge your phone from across the room

Battery life is still the number one complaint about smartphones. Searching for outlets and fumbling with cables has become a common daily routine. Yet the first wave of wireless charging solutions failed to really take off, in part, because you still have to find a plugged-in pad, and it’s difficult to use your smartphone while it’s charging on one. The lack of mass adoption has created a chicken and egg situation where wireless charging doesn’t have the ubiquity it needs to be really useful.

What if wireless charging worked more like Wi-Fi? What if you could walk into an office, restaurant, or home that has a power router and your device began to charge automatically? You wouldn’t even have to remove it from your pocket or bag. That’s the vision TechNovator has for its new XE product.

The base station, or power router, plugs into an outlet and you get a special smartphone case that acts as the receiver. Initially, the company plans to offer cases for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus when it launches the product on Kickstarter in November — but we got a sneak peek of the product in action.

How does it work?

The principle is based on resonant electromagnetic fields. Nikola Tesla used resonant inductive coupling as far back as 1894, and there have been various examples of wireless energy transfer since then. Electric power is transmitted wirelessly between two transmission coils that operate in a resonant mode. It’s the same basic principle as a radio receiver, a mobile data connection, or Wi-Fi, it’s just a different frequency.

Technovator_XE_base_and_case_black

TechNovator CEO, Ivan Chuba, has developed a method based on these principles and, working with a team of eight people in Poland and Ukraine, has created a working prototype.

Digital Trends dialed up Chuba in Ukraine via Skype for an exclusive sneak peek at the prototype XE charge station in action — a tangle of wires and circuitry that, when turned on, sent power approximately nine feet across a room to a smaller panel wired into an old LG phone. After a few seconds, the LG’s screen powered up to show the battery was charging.

When the product ships, you’ll get a charge station and a phone case. You’ll also download the XE app, which lets you set battery levels or specific times of day when you want the system to start and stop charging. The app can also be used to determine which XE you connect to (if you have more than one), set priorities for different devices, and set the intensity of charging; it’s recommended that the intensity is lower when the phone is in use.

How does it compare?

The greater convenience of wireless charging at a distance does come at a price. The XE is going to draw more power than a traditional plug-in charger or Qi wireless charging pad. It has a range of around 17 feet, but the further away you move from the charge station, the slower it will charge. Charging speeds, in general, are going to be slower, but Chuba told us that an average phone, within 5 or 6 feet of the charger, will fully recharge in around four hours.

It doesn’t need direct line of sight to charge, but thick walls and concrete obstacles are going to have an impact. One major benefit of the XE system is that it can charge four devices simultaneously, without a loss of speed, and more devices than that simultaneously at a slower speed.

Is it safe?

It seems as though firing electricity through the air might be dangerous, but Chuba explained that the XE operates at frequencies that surround us from birth. TechNovator has specialized equipment for high-precision measurements of frequency, density, energy flow, and other parameters in its laboratory and has taken steps to ensure that the technology meets safety requirements.

He also mentioned that they’ve been working with the XE prototype for the last year without any special protective screens or devices and have not noticed any health problems or worrisome indicators. (That may not be reassurance enough for everyone.)

Has true wireless charging arrived?

There are other players in this space, most notably Energous and Ossia, but no one is offering a consumer product just yet.

TechNovator will launch the XE as a package that offers the charge station and an iPhone case, but, if successful, it plans to rapidly expand the range. The receiving panel is 3mm thick, so it’s easy to build into phone cases, but it could conceivably be licensed by a manufacturer and built directly into devices in the future. It could be a desirable solution for all our mobile devices, from smartphones and tablets to laptops and wearables.

The final pricing is yet to be decided, but you might expect to pay in the region of $200 for a charge station and a single case.

If you like the look and sound of the XE, sign up for the newsletter at the TechNovator website. We will also keep you posted about the Kickstarter campaign, which is set to launch in November, ahead of a product release in the New Year, and we’ll be doing a hands-on review just as soon as we can get a demo unit.

Home Theater

Sol Republic delivers a long-awaited true wireless sequel with its Amps Air 2.0

Sol Republic is delivering a long-awaited sequel in its Amps Air true wireless earbuds in the Amps Air 2.0, which feature Bluetooth 5.0 and an IPX4 rating alongside the awesome charging case that fans of the original model loved.
Apple

Overheating problems may force Apple to extinguish the AirPower charger

At its September event last year, Apple unveiled the AirPower -- its new wireless charging mat that will allow you to charge multiple devices at one time. It has not yer been released. Here's everything we know about the device so far.
Computing

Is your Wi-Fi screwing up again? Here's our list of the best wireless routers

Check out the best wireless routers for a variety of homes and apartments. We've collected the top routers for wireless management, 4K streaming, professional gaming, Wi-fi on a budget, and much more. Take a look at our top pick, then check…
Photography

Photo FOMO: Recharge and stash lenses with this smartphone photo bag

Between lenses and extra batteries, smartphone photographers have lots of accessories too -- and could soon have a bag designed specifically for them. The bag isn't the only new accessory with wireless charging announced this week either.
Mobile

How to downgrade your iPhone or iPad from iOS 12 to iOS 11.4

Apple's iOS 12 may be the latest and greatest version of the mobile operating system, but perhaps it's not right for you right now. If that is the case, thankfully there are some ways to go back to iOS 11.4.
Mobile

Not sure about updating to iOS 12? Here are five reasons why you should

If you’re on the fence about whether to install iOS 12 or not, allow us to explain why the update is worthwhile. Here are five of our favorite features from Apple’s mobile platform.
Mobile

Mi 8 Pro looks like an iPhone, but has a feature Apple fans can only dream of

Xiaomi has launched two new phones in the Mi 8 family: The Mi 8 Pro and the Mi 8 Lite. Unlike the past models, these two are definitely going to be sold internationally. Here's what you need to know about them both.
Mobile

Google Maps is available on Apple CarPlay with iOS 12

After months of betas, the final version of iOS 12 is here to download. The new OS comes along with tons of new capabilities from grouped notifications to Siri Shortcuts, here are all the features you'll find in iOS 12.
Social Media

How to turn off Snapchat’s location-based Snap Map

Thanks to an opt-in feature added last year, Snapchat may be sharing your location with friends whenever you open it. Here, we'll walk you through how to turn off said feature off and regain some peace of mind.
Mobile

Find out how Apple's new iPhones measure up to the most bezel-less designs

As the smartphone industry marches toward a bezel-less future, we compare the shrinking bezels on the latest and greatest devices. Find out which manufacturers have the smallest bezels on their smartphone as we measure them side by side.
Mobile

iOS 12's Siri Shortcuts help Apple close the digital assistant gap

Siri may be lagging behind the competition, but Apple is finally supercharging the digital assistant with Siri Shortcuts, which allows you to perform tasks quickly and easily. Here's how to use iOS 12's new Siri Shortcuts app.
Mobile

Apple iPhone XS vs. Samsung Galaxy S9: 2018’s biggest flagships clash

The iPhone XS has been revealed, and it's one of the best phones of the year. But even though it's Apple's latest and greatest, it's up against a lot of competition. Is the iPhone XS better than the Samsung Galaxy S9?
Mobile

Samsung exec confirms upcoming Galaxy S10 will sport 'very significant changes'

While we still may be months away from an announcement, there's no doubt about it: Samsung is working hard on its successor to the Galaxy S9. Here's everything we know about the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S10.
Wearables

Just $100 buys you this super-tough — and very cool — G Shock fitness watch

Casio has announced a new Bluetooth-connected fitness watch in its G Shock line. The GBD-800 has an all-new digital display, fitness tracking technology, a classic G Shock look, and an attractive price.