Ossia is gearing up to charge gadgets without a wire in sight in 2020


A number of companies have been working on over-the-air charging – the holy grail for electronic devices – for several years now. Just think about how cool it’d be to never again have to plug your gadgets into wall sockets, change the batteries in your smoke detector, or even put down your phone so it can juice up.

There’s been some progress since these firms got started, but it looks like we’re almost at the finish line now, thanks to Ossia – which has just secured FCC approval for its wireless charging technology.

The Bellevue, Washington-based company, which was founded in 2013, has now received certification for Cota, its tech that uses radio frequencies to safely deliver up to 1W of power within a distance of 1m.

So, can we start juicing up our phones without putting them down already? Well, not quite. The nod from the US Federal Communications Commission allows Ossia to market and sell its tech nationwide, but not for residential use – only for industrial and commercial purposes. That means we’ll still need to wait a bit before we can use these at home, with products we can buy off the shelf.

The company will partner with other firms to build solutions for asset tracking in factories, as well as for any situation where it’s cumbersome to route power cables. CEO Mario Obeidat told me this could extend to powering things like sensors, and robotic arms operating in safety cages. And of course, there are a range of IoT devices that could benefit from wireless power delivery.

How does it work?

Over-the-air charging technology requires a transmitter – a device that’s akin to a Wi-Fi router in size and how it can be placed in a room – to send power in the form of a radio frequency (RF) signal to a receiver. The receiver is small enough to be embedded in laptops, phones, and other gadgets, and it converts these signals into DC power.

Other companies do this too, but Ossia says that it takes a different approach. With Cota, a signal is first sent from the receiver to the transmitter to initiate a ‘conversation.’ The transmitter then sends power back along the same path; the path changes if there’s an object, person, or pet in between the two devices, so the path changes almost instantaneously. This allows for safe and efficient continuous power delivery, without requiring that devices maintain line of sight, or turn off when there are objects obstructing the path.

Ossia says its Cota transmitter can deliver power to devices with a receiver, without maintaining line of sight
Credit: Ossia