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Xiaomi debuts over-the-air charging but it won't release this year (Updated)

Update: We'll have to wait longer to see Xiaomi's new Mi Air Charge system in action.

Published onJanuary 29, 2021

  • Xiaomi has introduced a new wireless charging technology called Mi Air Charge.
  • It can remotely charge your smartphone over the air.
  • Mi Air Charge currently supports 5W charging.

Update: January 29, 2021 (5:42 AM ET): A Xiaomi spokesperson told TechCrunch that the company won’t be commercializing Mi Air Charge this year. That means we can only expect the system to roll out sometime in 2022.

The confirmation is disappointing but it’s probably for the best. No one wants underbaked tech and Xiaomi is probably still working to make it ready for market release. It’s also unclear if tech like this will need additional regulatory approvals, for health reasons or otherwise.

Original article: January 28, 2021 (11:53 PM ET): Xiaomi has been doing a great job of innovating in the wireless charging space. The company recently showed off its 80W wireless charging tech, but nothing compares to the new Mi Air Charge technology it announced today. The first of its kind to go official, Mi Air Charge allows you to charge your mobile devices remotely over the air.

The technology removes the need to plonk your electronic devices on a wireless charging stand or connect them to any cables. Instead, it uses intelligent space positioning and energy transmission to juice them up.

How does Mi Air Charge work?

Mi Air Charge delivers 5W of remote power to a single device within a radius of several meters. It takes advantage of Xiaomi’s self-developed “isolated charging pile” that has five built-in interface antennas. Xiaomi claims these antennas can accurately detect a smartphone’s location and even physical obstacles won’t reduce the charging efficiency.

A phase control array made of 144 antennas then transmits millimeter-wide waves directly to the phone through beamforming.

For the phone to be able to receive these millimeter waves and convert them into electrical energy, the company has developed a miniaturized antenna array comprising of a “beacon antenna” and a “receiving antenna array”.

The former broadcasts the position of the device, while the latter does the job of converting the millimeter-wave signal emitted by the charging pile into energy for charging.

Xiaomi says it owns 17 technology patents for the self-developed air-to-air charging system. In the future, Mi Air Charge will also be able to remotely charge smartwatches, bracelets, and other wearable devices.

“Soon our living room devices, including speakers, desk lamps, and other small smart home products, will all be built upon a wireless power supply design, completely free of wires, making our living rooms truly wireless,” the company writes in its blog post.

Would you buy and use Mi Air Charge technology?

850 votes

There’s no word on when Xiaomi will commercialize Mi Air Charge, but it’ll be a turning point for wireless charging whenever it does. The tech has existed for some time now, but no company has been able to bring it to market yet.

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