Why Non-Line-of-Sight Is Imperative for Wireless Power Success

Remember when wireless TV remote controls became popular? It was a huge technological advancement to be able to flip through channels, mute, and turn the volume up and down, all without getting up from the sofa. In fact, it was so easy to browse channels, it completely changed the way we watched television.

 Wireless Line-of-Sight Remote Controls Today

 Fast forward to today, and remote controls are a pain, and not just because we have three or four (or five!) floating around, frequently getting lost in the cushions or needing batteries. It’s because they are limited by line-of-sight technology.

The remote control works when you point it, and its internal infrared light, toward the television, cable box, DVR, Apple TV, Roku, stereo, or whatever system you have set up right now, and when there’s no object in-between you and it: no kids or dogs stepping in front of the beam and no cabinet door closed.

Sound familiar? That’s how infrared laser beam wireless power works, essentially. Ultrasound and beamforming wireless power technologies, too. The transmitter and the receiver must be able to “see” each other to send power over a distance.

Line-of-Sight Has Become an Unacceptable Limitation

Historically, line of sight hasn’t been such an inconvenience, but as televisions and streaming programming become more sophisticated, it’s more awkward than ever to use a line-of-site remote or clicker to scroll through a screen experience that was designed for a computer. It’s even more difficult to type by remote. In fact, companies are creating smartphone apps to get rid of this problem.[1][2][3]

 So if history shows us that line of sight is limiting to the user experience and growth of the television watching industry, why is it considered an acceptable element by new wireless power organizations?

 It’s not. Line-of-sight has become unacceptable for most applications.

Non-Line-of-Sight Wireless Power Advantages

 Wireless power technologies that require line of sight may be workable within some applications early on in wireless power adoption, but it clearly is a hindrance to any application where the receiving device moves or there are moving objects or people in the environment.

 Here are just a few of the more obvious advantages of adopting non-line-of-sight wireless power:

  • Efficiency: With non-line-of-sight, a complex tracking algorithm is not required, so the transmitter does not use up energy trying to continuously track the receiver.
  • Convenience: Users do not have to worry about wireless power delivery interruptions; power is delivered even if objects are in the way, whether they are moving or not.
  • Safety: line-of-sight tracking take a lot of energy, which may heat up a transmitter. What’s more, line-of-sight technologies typically stop delivering wireless power when the line is blocked by a person, because of safety concerns. Non-line-of-sight radio-frequency-based wireless power like Cota® can send continuous energy, because the path of energy “goes around” people and pets and bounces off of objects.

Line-of-Sight Wireless Power Disadvantages

While the advantages of non-line-of-sight wireless power are seemingly endless, so are the disadvantages of line of sight.

Even when objects do not move, such as some home IoT, imagine having to arrange your home furniture to ensure that each device is in line with the transmitter. Imagine needing multiple transmitters in a home with many walls or having to move the transmitter to make something receive a charge.

We have hundreds of objects in our home that require batteries or wired charging. Imagine how cumbersome that will be if they all require line of sight?

 Now extend that scenario to a larger, more complex space, like a warehouse or airport? Non-line-of-sight technology simply doesn’t function effectively in the real world.

 Cota Non-Line-of-Sight Wireless Power

 Cota® is the first (and currently, the only) non-line-of-sight wireless power solution that supports the constant movement of the receiver without hindering service. Consider these applications:

  • Automotive sensors in moving parts
  • Retail scanners
  • Industrial tools
  • Medical implants
  • Wearables and mobile devices
  • Devices that need privacy, such as breast pumps 

Cota doesn’t require the transmitter and receiver to be lined up without obstruction or interruption to work. The Cota receiver sends a beacon signal that bounces off of objects, but not organic matter, to communicate with the transmitter, even when the receiver is in motion or behind objects in the room, like furniture or retail displays.

Because the receiving device does not have to be lined up with the transmitter, and power delivery does not stop if something passes in front of the signal; it simply “goes around.”

Just as you don’t have to know where the Wi-Fi hub is placed to receive Internet, you shouldn’t have to sit still in front of a wireless power transmitter to get power. Powering devices in motion and in non-line-of-sight situations provides a significant advantage.

For more information about the technological differences of wireless power solutions, see: 

7 Wireless Power Must-Haves: A Checklist

Wireless Power Technology Differences 

[1] https://support.apple.com/en-us/ht207254

[2] https://www.sony.com/electronics/video-tv-sideview

[3] https://www.roku.com/mobile-app