Belkin is releasing cordless wireless charging technology this year

room with wi-charge transmitter on wall
Enlarge / The Wi-Charge transmitter is intended to send power directly to the supporting device and nowhere else.


Despite all the “wireless charging” technology available, there are still a lot of power cables sliding around the home. Even wireless charging stations require a cord. This is what makes the impending arrival of wireless charging, which sends power without cable or pad, exciting. So far, the technology has been restricted to commercial use in the United States, but Belkin is expected to release a true wireless charging product to individuals this year.

Headquartered in California, Belkin offers a range of consumer technologies, including wireless charging racks that support Apple MagSafe and speakers. On Wednesday, it announced a partnership with Wi-Charge to create consumer products that support wireless charging. The Israel-based company says its technology uses infrared rays to transmit up to 1W of power to devices within a range of up to 40 feet.

The announcement did not specify which product Belkin would incorporate Wi-Charge technology, but Ori Mor, Chief Business Officer and co-founder of Wi-Charge, told TechCrunch that it would be “a key consumer product” released sometime this year. Mom pointed to Belkin’s business of charging accessories and smart home and powerline products as areas that would benefit from over-the-air charging.

Mom also told TechCrunch that we could expect Wi-Charge to release another consumer product in 2022. If that happens, the Belkin product and the unannounced second device should join e.g. a smartwatch, indoor security camera, air monitor and smart tracker from French brand Archos that supports over-the-air power.

“The future of charging has been going from cable to wireless for years now, and we expect wireless charging to accelerate this development,” Belkin CTO Brian Van Harlingen said in a statement.

Although Wi-Charge does not have specific product details, it’s easy to think of how the technology could make charging consumer technology easier, from electronic toothbrushes to smart speakers. Smartphones are another prominent area that can benefit from over-the-air charging, and Ossia, the company that partnered with Archos, has already demonstrated how that could be done. In 2020, it showed me a Spigen-branded smartphone cover that used its over-the-air charging to power a smartphone.

Wi-Charge has also shown interest in bringing its technology to homes via controllers for video game consoles and smart locks, monitors and faucets.

Conversion of electricity to IR

The Wi-Charge technology that Belkin has signed up for uses a transmitter connected to an AC or DC to transmit up to 1W of power to devices with a Wi-Charge receiver. The transmitter is small and measures 3.7 x 3.7 x 1.6 inches, according to the Wi-Charges website. The site also says that the transmitter has a coverage angle range of 80 degrees. Demonstrative images on the Wi-Charges website show the transmitter mounted on a ceiling, like a smoke detector.

According to Wi-Charge, “the transmitter converts electricity into safe infrared rays.” Then the receiver “charges an internal rechargeable battery or a super-capacitor”, which the device uses with the receiver and gets power. The receiver can also send data about the device, such as how much battery is left and usage statistics, to the transmitter.

For those concerned about infrared rays shooting across their homes, Wi-Charge technology only sets in motion when it detects a device with a supporting receiver. The Wi-Charges transmitter must have a line of sight with the device it supplies in order to function, unlike Ossia’s technology. The transmitter does not send anything out if a receiver is not within range.

Navigation regulations

Federal regulatory requirements are a crucial obstacle to offering true wireless charging for smartphones and other consumer products. Ossia, for example, has been describing its journey for approval by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for years and finally received its first approval in March.

Because Wi-Charge works via infrared technology rather than radio waves, like Ossia’s product, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) required approval.

The receiver Wi-Charge announced today is 0.8 x 2 x 0.3 inches.

The receiver Wi-Charge announced today is 0.8 x 2 x 0.3 inches.

“In the United States, the appropriate device for approving infrared devices is the FDA and not the FCC for historical reasons,” Wi-Charges Mother told Digital Trends in 2017 when Wi-Charge received FDA approval. “Technically, the FCC must also approve Wi-Charge, but because we use infrared, it is not a challenge for us to get FCC approval – because technically, Wi-Charge is not under the FCC’s domain.”

Wi-Charge’s announcement on Wednesday noted that it has certification for CE, UL and FDA standards. I asked the company about its status with the FCC and will update this article if I hear back.

Belkin is an established name in technology, so seeing that collaboration with Wi-Charge is good news for cable clutter. Nice freaks, however, will have to be patient. After all, Ossia announced its partnership with Spigen to make wireless charging smartphone covers in 2019, and we’re still waiting for an update.