Wireless charging is a common feature for high-end phones, wireless earbuds, and other gadgets these days. For the most part that means you don’t have to plug a wire directly into the device you want to charge, but you still need to place it on or very, very close to a wireless charging pad or stand.

Eventually you may be able to charge your gadgets just by walking into a room where there’s a charger though. Companies have been developing wireless charging-at-a-distance technology for years, and earlier this year phone makers including Motorola and Xiaomi started showing off prototypes. Now Motorola is showcasing an updated version that it calls Motorola Air Charging.

The company says its new solution uses 1,600 antennas to detect and charge up to 4 devices simultaneously as long as they’re within 3 meters (close to 10 feet) of the charger and lined up within a 100-degree angle of the charging system.

That’s about three times the distance Motorola was demonstrating earlier this year, and Motorola says its wireless charging system can deliver power through small objects like pieces of paper. And it’s smart enough to detect human bodies so that charging can be paused temporarily if you walk past and don’t feel like having electricity beamed at you.

There is at least one down side – don’t expect fast charging from this technology. It allegedly tops out at about 5-watts.

There’s no word on if or when Motorola Air Charging will be available to the public, but odds are that if it does ever come to market you’ll not only need to buy a special charger, but also phones designed to work with it.

via Android Authority and GizmoChina

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  1. 3.3 feet is about 1 meter… so either the range is about 1 meter or 10 feet, you need to choose! One or the other.

  2. Would be interesting to see how power (in)efficient they were able to get this, even for that 5V charge…

    The Apple MagSafe for phones is still only like 60%-ish, and that’s right next to it and 100% aligned via it’s magnets.

  3. Maybe they should just bring back DC barrel jacks (at a common size) as the redundant option with usb charging instead of making machinery that’s so needlessly complicated. It’d have a lower environmental impact.

    1. Standard size and voltage. A barrel jack can carry 0-60V and fry my phone instantly. USB PD’s 5V unless something negotiates more so a lot less risky. I’m not a barrel jack fan.

      1. Indeed. I just think it’s more sensible than messing around with long range wireless charging. I don’t really think redundant charging methods are necessarily worth including in phones, but some people like using wireless charging so they don’t mess up the USB port.
        If jacks were to return for that reason alone, maybe the easy way to do it now would be to have passive usb-to-barrel adapters. It’s about as many middle men as the USB to Qi adapters.

    2. Hard disagree. Barrel connectors wouldn’t make less environmental waste, they would make more.

      First, they have a much shorter lifespan than USB-C. Some of them last hundreds of insertions. USB-C is rated for 10,000.

      And to make things worse, there are dozens of sizes of these connectors. So when someone goes out to buy one, they come home with a universal adapter kit with 10-15 connectors. More waste.

      Manufacturers will never switch smartphones and tablets to barrel connectors. There’s no way to protect the device from the wrong voltage. And worst of all, the connectors are physically too large. The female end would increase the thickness of any device by 2x

      1. I’ve seen some really small ones on older phones, around the size of 3.5mm jacks.
        But you’re right, it’s still a bad idea, because there’s a better option I only thought of several hours later. Just add another USB port. Or just keep going on as is and don’t bother with unnecessary luxuries like long range wireless charging.