MWC 2019: The Smartphone Cord May Be Dead by 2020 Thanks to Ossia
Ossia, the startup that’s developing a wireless power system that works more like Wifi, took a big step toward its goal of cutting the cord on Monday. The firm announced plans to team up with case manufacturer Spigen to release special cases supporting its “Cota” technology, enabling existing smartphones to charge from a nearby base station.
“Spigen is a fantastic partnership that will allow smartphone users to access Cota Real Wireless Power by 2020,” the team tells Inverse. “Ossia’s is still working with phone manufacturers to embed the Cota technology into devices directly, but this will take longer as mobile phone roadmaps plan two to three years out.”
The Cota Forever Sleeve sends out a beacon to a nearby base station, which then transmits power to the receiver within a range of several meters. The pair interact with each other 100 times per second, and Ossia claims the base station can transmit power to all supported devices within range.
The timeline is a slight revision on previous estimates. Ossia founder Hatem Zeine told Inverse in December 2016 that the company had been demonstrating wireless power for around six years, and smartphones using the technology could emerge by the end of 2017. In July 2018, the company revised this date again to say that products will enter the prototyping stage by early 2019.
The Spigen-manufactured case could make the technology a reality for consumers. Wireless charging has been available on Android smartphones for years, with Apple making the jump in 2017, but these Qi-based solutions require contact with a charging pad. Ossia envisions a system that ditches the pad and cable entirely.
Its prototypes have made significant advancements over the years. When Inverse first saw the technology in April 2016, it consisted of a giant base station providing less than one watt of power, enough to ensure the battery does not lose power under normal use but a lot less than the five watts provided by a standard charger. Two years later, it updated its Cota Time to boost the power received at the device by 50 percent, with the prototype operating over the 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz frequencies.
“By teaming up with Spigen to create Cota-enabled phone sleeves and a Cota power transmitter, we’re one step closer to bringing true wireless power to consumers,” Doug Stovall, chief revenue officer for Ossia, said in a statement. “We’re excited to collaborate with a cutting-edge company like Spigen to build a transmitter that consumers can use in their homes and offices.
Ossia is not the only company working to cut the cord. Energous has been rumored as a potential partner with Apple, while EPC’s magnetic resonance system aims to power a whole desk using principles similar to Qi-based chargers. Another competitor, Wi-Charge, aims to use ceiling lights to beam down power to devices with line of sight, offering up to three watts of pwoer over 10 meters.
The cord’s days are numbered.