WiTricity

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WiTricity
Private
IndustryElectric Vehicle Wireless Charging
Founded2007
FounderMarin Soljačić
Headquarters57 Water Street, ,
United States
Area served
Global
Key people
Alex Gruzen, CEO, Don Peck, CFO, Morris Kesler, CTO,
ProductsMagnetic Resonance Wireless Charging Technology
Number of employees
59
Websitewww.witricity.com

WiTricity is an MIT spinout. When it was founded in 2007, it was attempting both consumer appliances as well as electric vehicle wireless charging, as made clear by their former CEO, Eric Giler, in 2009.[1] Their vision of the future soon morphed into claims of wirelessly powering entire homes, including appliances, home computers, heating, lighting etc., simply by using giant transmitter coils embedded in the walls.[2] They also were demonstrating drones being wirelessly charged using giant receiver coils placed between the feet of the drones, stating: "Drones, also known as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), offer a rich application space for WiTricity magnetic resonance technology, both for wireless charging of drones and for delivery of wireless charging by drones.[3] This vision was emphasized in late 2014 by their current CEO, Alex Gruzen who stated "I'm confident that we'll see many Rezence-based products at CES this [coming] year, and with major powerhouse organizations, like Intel, licensing our technology and implementing it as part of the Rezence specification, we're excited to see our vision of a wireless world start to become a commercial reality in the next year." [4] It was not to be, and Intel abandoned its Rezence-based attempts in 2016,[5] and by 2017, Rezence was over in effect, drones never took off, and wireless homes were clearly well out of reach. WiTricity announced layoffs as a result,[6] and now focuses solely on wireless charging systems for electric vehicles (EVs).

WiTricity uses resonant inductive coupling technology principle for power transfer.[7] As explained on the WiTricity website[8], that approach invokes "coupled resonators"—created by tuning both the receiver and the transmitter independently to the same resonant frequency, in effect disregarding the effects of coupling when they are placed in close proximity[9]. As also mentioned on the Wikipedia page for wireless power transfer, "a drawback of resonant coupling theory is that at close ranges when the two resonant circuits are tightly coupled, the resonant frequency of the system is no longer constant but splits into two resonant peaks, so the maximum power transfer no longer occurs at the original resonant frequency and the oscillator frequency must be re-tuned to the new resonance peak."[10][11]

History[edit]

The term WiTricity was used for a project that took place at MIT, led by Marin Soljačić in 2006.[12][13] The MIT researchers successfully demonstrated the ability to power a 60 watt light bulb wirelessly, using two 5-turn copper coils of 60 cm (24 in) diameter, that were 2 m (7 ft) away, at roughly 45% efficiency.[14][15] The coils were designed to resonate together at 9.9 MHz (wavelength ≈ 30 m) and were oriented along the same axis. One was connected inductively to a power source, and the other one to a bulb. The setup powered the bulb on, even when the direct line of sight was blocked using a wooden panel. Researchers were able to power a 60 watt light bulb at roughly 90% efficiency at a distance of 3 feet. The research project was spun off into a private company, also called WiTricity.

The emerging technology was demonstrated in July 2009 by CEO Eric Giler at the TED Global Conference held in Oxford.[16][17] There he refers to the original idea, first applied by the physicist Nikola Tesla between his coils,[18] and shows a WiTricity power unit powering a television as well as three different cell phones, the initial problem that inspired Soljacic to get involved with the project. It is however now being pointed out that the entire device was not being "powered wirelessly" as claimed or implied by Giler at 8 minutes and 50 seconds into the video. It is clear that only the charging icon appears, which typically only means the battery had started charging (at an unknown rate). WiTricity technology licensing agreements both in EV charging and consumer devices were announced over the course of several years with companies such as Toyota, Aptiv (formerly Delphi), Mahle, TDK, IHI Corporation, Shindengen, Daihen, BRUSA, and Anjie Wireless. Global corporate investors have included Toyota, Intel Capital, Delta Electronics Capital, Foxconn, Haier, and Schlumberger. Despite the huge investments for consumer devices and electric vehicles (EVs), the only consumer product ever released using WiTricity technology was the ill-fated 2-in-1 (tablet with detachable keyboard), the Dell Latitude 7285 in 2017.[19] In EV charging, the only outcome was a leased version of the BMW530e, offering only 3.2 kW delivered wirelessly over 8 cm at 85% efficiency[20]. This efficiency translates to almost half a kiloWatt of heat generated in the enclosed garage while charging. Interested users in USA are selected only from California, up to a maximum of 200 approved "testers" only, and only after passing an inspection of their homes and garage, which had to be enclosed[21].

A huge investment into WiTricity, for EV charging was made by Toyota back in 2011[22][23]. Prior to that, in 2010, Delphi had already announced they too were partnering with WiTricity for EV charging[24] [25]. Intel abandoned all efforts in bringing wireless charging to laptops back in 2016[26]. Dell, one of the first partners of WiTricity, along with Foxconn, Haier, Delta and Schlumberger all effectively did the same by the end of 2017, after the solitary release of the Dell Latitude 7285 mentioned above. And neither Toyota or Aptiv (formerly Delphi), have had any visible success with EV charging, despite Toyota indicating EV wireless charging was coming soon back in 2014[27]. The key competitor of WiTricity in EV charging, Qualcomm-Halo, had been announcing for long that their technology would be available in 2018 in the Mercedes S550e[28][29], but instead, in early 2019, Qualcomm-Halo sold its entire patent EV charging portfolio to WiTricity and effectively exited the business[30]. To observers, the pattern was noticeably similar to the fate of Rezence (wireless charging standard) which was also started by Qualcomm, but they had by all accounts lost interest along the way, with no product to show, and WiTricity had rushed in to push the standard along till 2017, after which they focused on EV charging instead.

In late 2012, the company announced it would make a $1000 demonstration kit available to interested parties, to promote development of commercial applications.[31] The kit was intended to demonstrate the principle of "coupled resonators" to promote their foray into consumer appliances based on the now-defunct Rezence standard, and delivered barely 100 milliWatts at 250 kHz[32].

In 2014, WiTricity said it already had a demonstration kit providing 3.3 kW, and their CEO Alex Gruzen said they were well on their way to creating a 6.6 kW kit[33]. The datasheet[34] for the 3.3 kW kit from 2014, claims a distance of 12-15 cm, and a "coil to coil" efficiency of "up to 97%." It needs to be clarified that the definition of efficiency used by the MIT researchers was different from the usual definition based on input and output power, and so when they say "97%," the actual efficiency number could be significantly off. MIT researchers were only referring to the energy estimated lost between the coils, which loss is actually considered negligible in all near-field inductive or resonant methods as opposed to radio-frequency based systems. This correction is further supported by the actual specifications of the 2018 leased version of the BMW530e based on WiTricity technology, which offers only 85% efficiency, over just 8 cm, as mentioned elsewhere on this page.

By February 2014, WiTricity abandoned their original approach for consumer devices, based on 9.9MHz, which was the frequency originally used by the MIT researchers, which unfortunately stood absolutely no chance of ever getting regulatory approvals. They then joined the Alliance for Wireless Power, also known as A4WP or WiPower, to support the Rezence standard which was operating at the more reasonable and recognized ISM band frequency of 6.78MHz.[35] Alex Gruzen was hired as CEO of WiTricity in April 2014. Till June 2010, he had served as Senior Vice President, Consumer Product Group at Dell, in which position he had been responsible for Dell's consumer desktop and notebook lines of business.[36]. Alex got Witricity a design win at Dell, as announced in January 2017, at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.[37] On closer examination, the Dell Latitude 7285, was not a usual laptop [19], but a 2-in-1—a tablet with a detachable keyboard, at an add-on cost of $549.99 for the Rezence-based wireless charging option. [38] It was labeled a "hack" by The Verge.[39]

The Rezence standard was already considered imperiled when Intel abruptly abandoned it in June 2016[40], despite having invested heavily in WiTricity. [41] The Dell Latitude 7285 was by all accounts a flop, and Alex Gruzen decided to take WiTricity out of the competition for powering consumer electronics, and focus on wireless power for electric vehicles, which had they had in fact been pursuing too, since 2007. The company has reportedly collaborated with car makers Audi, BMW, Chrysler, Jaguar, Nissan, and Toyota. In 2017, despite having raised $68 million to support both consumer appliances and EV charging, the company ordered layoffs, reducing its workforce from 80 to 55 and closing an office in Austin, Texas, all in an effort to reposition WiTricity to address the market opportunity around electric vehicles and directly contend with its biggest EV competitor, Qualcomm Halo.

After years of R&D, patent design and licensing with global automakers, 2018 saw the first EV with WiTricity’s technology hit the streets – the BMW 530e iPerformance sedan, equipped with the first-ever wireless charging system[42]. This delivered 3.2 kilowatts across 8 cm[20], with an efficiency of 85%, which indicates almost half a kilowatt of heat generated within the garage while charging. Building on this achievement, WiTricity was named a 2018 New Energy Pioneer by Bloomberg New Energy Finance[43] and signed several new licensing deals including MAHLE in Germany[44] and Anjie Wireless in China[45]. However, despite the reported press release from WiTricity, there is no independent confirmation from Anjie Wireless[46].

The BMW530e wireless charging option was made available in USA in mid-2019, but on a very limited trial basis only. It was available under lease, only in California, and only for a maximum of 200 approved "testers" in USA. It was not for sale[20]. Further, a third-party contractor Qmerit would need to first inspect the applicant's home before approving the lease under a pilot program[47]. It has also been reported that in fact only 9 cars have been equipped with this wireless charging feature, under the pilot program in USA[48].

In 2019, Honda partnered with WiTricity to demonstrate their wireless vehicle-to-grid (V2G) charging model at CES 2019 in Las Vegas, leveraging WiTricity’s DRIVE 11 wireless charging system.[49]

In February 2019, announced the acquisition from Qualcomm Incorporated and Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. of certain technology platform and IP assets, which will bring over 1,500 patents and patent applications related to wireless charging that WiTricity will own or control. Prior to the acquisition, Qualcomm Incorporated and WiTricity had been working collaboratively with global standards organizations, which currently leverage reference designs from each company. This acquisition will simplify ratification of the standard and help ensure interoperability across automakers. EV drivers will be able to use any standards-compatible wireless charging pad to power their vehicles.[50]

The EV charging portfolio sold off by Qualcomm in 2019, originally came from their 2011 acquisition of a New Zealand spin-out of the University of Auckland called HaloIPT[51]. It is the same place from where the spin-out called PowerbyProxi later emerged, acquired by Apple in 2017, to supposedly create the now-canceled AirPower.[52] [53]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Robert Buderi (June 16, 2009). "WiTricity Charges Up For Electric Vehicle Market - Page 2 of 2". Xconomy. Retrieved October 13, 2019.
  2. ^ Nick Glass and Matthew Ponsford (March 28, 2014). "Wireless electricity? It's here". CNN. Retrieved January 14, 2020.
  3. ^ WiTricity (July 20, 2015). "Drones and Phones". WiTricity. Retrieved January 14, 2020.
  4. ^ Richard Lai (November 6, 2014). "Five questions for the man making contactless wireless power a reality". engadget. Retrieved November 24, 2019.
  5. ^ Elise Ackerman (June 6, 2016). "Intel Ceases Work On Wireless Charging". Forbes. Retrieved November 24, 2019.
  6. ^ Scott Kirsner (December 15, 2017). "WiTricity takes a turn toward electric-car charging". Boston Globe.
  7. ^ "WiTricity Accelerates Wireless Charging Efforts, Partnering With 10 Auto Makers, China and Infrastructure Players". www.strategyanalytics.com. Retrieved February 11, 2019.
  8. ^ Kesler, Morris (2016). "Highly Resonant Wireless Power Transfer" (PDF). witricity.com. Retrieved October 13, 2019.
  9. ^ "kjs crystal radio, resonance". Lessmiths.com. Retrieved October 13, 2019.
  10. ^ Schormans, Matthew; Valente, Virgilio; Demosthenous, Andreas (2016). "Frequency Splitting Analysis and Compensation Method for Inductive Wireless Powering of Implantable Biosensors". Sensors. 16 (8): 1229. doi:10.3390/s16081229. PMC 5017394. PMID 27527174.
  11. ^ "KJS crystal radio, resonance".
  12. ^ Davide Castelvecchi (November 14, 2006). "Wireless electricity could power consumer, industrial electronics". MIT News.
  13. ^ Franklin Hadley (June 7, 2007). "Goodbye wires!". MIT News.
  14. ^ Kurs, André (2007). Power transfer through strongly coupled resonances (M. S. thesis). MIT. hdl:1721.1/45429 – via MIT Libraries | DSpace@MIT.
  15. ^ Genuth, Iddo (May 3, 2007). "Wireless Power Demonstrated". The Future of Things. Archived from the original on December 31, 2008. Retrieved December 9, 2008.
  16. ^ Fildes, Jonathan (July 23, 2009). "Wireless power system shown off". BBC News Online. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
  17. ^ "Eric Giler demos wireless electricity". TED. July 2009. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
  18. ^ "A demo of wireless electricity".
  19. ^ a b "Availability Announced for WiTricity Technology-Enabled Dell Latitude" (Press release). Witricity. July 11, 2017. Retrieved October 13, 2019.
  20. ^ a b c Andrew Krok. "BMW launches 2019 5 Series plug-in hybrid wireless charging pilot in California - Roadshow". CNET.com. Retrieved October 13, 2019.
  21. ^ [1]
  22. ^ Gordon-Bloomfield, Nikki (April 28, 2011). "Toyota Joins Wireless Electric Car Charging Revolution". Green Car Reports. Retrieved April 24, 2012.
  23. ^ "TMC and WiTricity Form Wireless Battery-charging Alliance". Toyota Motor Corporation. April 27, 2011. Retrieved April 24, 2012.
  24. ^ [2][dead link]
  25. ^ "Toyota makes multi-million-dollar investment in WiTricity Corp., developer of wireless car-charging technology - Innovation Economy - Boston.com". Archive.boston.com. April 27, 2011. Retrieved October 13, 2019.
  26. ^ "Intel Ceases Work On Wireless Charging". Forbes.com. Retrieved October 13, 2019.
  27. ^ "Toyota Wireless Electric Vehicle Charging System". YouTube. February 16, 2014. Retrieved October 13, 2019.
  28. ^ "2018 Mercedes-Benz S550e will offer wireless EV charging technology built using Qualcomm Halo breakthroughs". Qualcomm. December 15, 2016. Retrieved October 13, 2019.
  29. ^ Jonathan M. Gitlin (October 11, 2016). "Mercedes-Benz debuts Qualcomm's wireless charging for the hybrid S Class". Ars Technica. Retrieved October 13, 2019.
  30. ^ "WiTricity Acquires Qualcomm Halo" (Press release). Witricity. February 11, 2019. Retrieved October 13, 2019.
  31. ^ "WiTricity kit helps engineers develop wireless power charging".
  32. ^ Post (October 7, 2019). "Missing WiTricity Prodigy Kit Manual". Slideshare.net. Retrieved October 13, 2019.
  33. ^ [3][dead link]
  34. ^ "Datasheet" (PDF). Terraelectronica.ru. Retrieved October 13, 2019.
  35. ^ "WiTricity Joins the Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP) to Commercialize Resonant Wireless Power" (Press release). Witricity. February 11, 2014. Retrieved October 13, 2019.
  36. ^ Alex Gruzen (August 14, 2006). "About Alex Gruzen - Dell Community". Dell.com. Retrieved October 13, 2019.
  37. ^ https://www.barrons.com/articles/witricity-energous-were-shipping-deal-with-it-say-wireless-power-pioneers-1505418421
  38. ^ Chris Morley. "New Latitude 2-in-1s Arrive to Help Drive Further Growth in 2-in-1 Market". Dell. Retrieved October 13, 2019.
  39. ^ Liao, Shannon (July 11, 2017). "Dell is selling the world's first wirelessly charging laptop for $1,750". The Verge. Retrieved October 13, 2019.
  40. ^ "Intel Ceases Work On Wireless Charging". Forbes.com. Retrieved October 13, 2019.
  41. ^ Curt Woodward (October 23, 2013). "WiTricity's Wireless-Power Tech Attracts $25M from Intel, Foxconn". Xconomy. Retrieved October 13, 2019.
  42. ^ "BMW adopting tech". www.bizjournals.com. July 9, 2018. Retrieved October 13, 2019.
  43. ^ "Ten Winners of The New Energy Pioneers Unveiled at Bloomberg New Energy Finance Summit in New York City | BloombergNEF". About.bnef.com. April 9, 2018. Retrieved October 13, 2019.
  44. ^ Steve Hanley (February 7, 2019). "MAHLE Agrees To License Wireless Charging From WiTricity". CleanTechnica. Retrieved October 13, 2019.
  45. ^ "Anjie Wireless Licenses WiTricity Technology for China Electric Vehicle Market" (Press release). Witricity. October 16, 2018. Retrieved October 19, 2019.
  46. ^ http://www.anjiewl.com/en/xinwenzhongxin/
  47. ^ https://www.qmerit.com/bmwwireless
  48. ^ https://www.mckennabmw.com/introducing-the-new-530e-wireless-charging-pilot-in-norwalk-ca.htm
  49. ^ https://electriccarsreport.com/2018/12/honda-to-debut-wireless-v2g-system-at-ces-2019/
  50. ^ "WiTricity Acquires Qualcomm Halo". www.businesswire.com. February 11, 2019. Retrieved February 11, 2019.
  51. ^ "Qualcomm Acquires HaloIPT Team and its Wireless Electric Vehicle Charging Technology". Qualcomm.com. November 8, 2011. Retrieved October 13, 2019.
  52. ^ "Innovation Timeline". Innovation.auckland.ac.nz. August 18, 2014. Retrieved October 13, 2019.
  53. ^ Statt, Nick (October 24, 2017). "Apple buys New Zealand-based wireless charging company PowerbyProxi". The Verge. Retrieved October 13, 2019.

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