Wireless Power Supply to Store Devices; Testing in Special Zones.  Application in Plants also Considered.

Originally posted by Nihon Keizai Shimbun Morning Edition Nikkei

The Japanese government is promoting the use of systems which can provide wireless power supply to electronic shelf labels and the like at convenience stores.  Continuous power supply would reach all parts of a store wirelessly from a distance of a few to ten meters, thereby curbing maintenance costs of digital devices.  Six-month to one year tests could begin in National Strategic Special Zones as early as 2018, with commercialization to be approved in a timely manner in the absence of interference or other issues.  The aim is to facilitate the spread of “IoT,” which connects all objects through the Internet. 

The demonstration tests would be conducted in a “sandbox” environment, where regulations are temporarily suspended and experimentation with new technology is encouraged, in the National Strategic Special Zones.  Based on a proposal from Ossia, Inc., a leading U.S. developer of wireless power technology based in Washington, the government is taking steps toward a law amendment that would approve the demonstration tests.  The plan is to incorporate this into the proposed amendment to the Act on National Strategic Special Zones to be submitted to this session of the Diet. 

The use of short proximity wireless charging has already begun to expand, such as charging a smartphone simply by placing in a dedicated device.  There are no technical standards under the Radio Act, however, for delivering power to locations at a certain distance, effectively making it impossible to obtain a license necessary for commercialization.    

In terms of practical application, such wireless power supply would be used in electronic shelf labels, which display prices digitally, installed on the shelfs of convenience stores and supermarkets.  Electronic shelf labels currently require battery replacement at least once a year. 

A transmitter placed on the ceiling of a store could provide sufficient power to electronic shelf labels and digital signage. 

Application in various plant sensors is also being considered.