Wireless Charging Gets a Boost in New WiTricity Licensing Deal
When MIT wireless-power spinout WiTricity appointed a new CEO last year, the company sent a pretty clear signal about its hopes for the future.
New boss Alex Gruzen, a veteran of the PC world, brought years of experience integrating new technologies into consumer electronics. A few months after coming onboard, and after arranging a big licensing agreement with investor Intel, Gruzen told us the startup was entering a phase of “aggressive commercialization.”
Today, there’s some more evidence of that plan in motion. CTEK, a Swedish maker of battery and charging products for vehicles, is licensing WiTricity’s technology for use in “a wide range of automotive, industrial, and recreational vehicle battery systems,” CTEK CEO Jon Lind said in a news release.
WiTricity’s technology can send electricity through the air to a nearby device without using cords or physical contact to connect the two endpoints.
The process starts with a special coil, which converts garden-variety AC electricity to a higher frequency and voltage and creates a type of magnetic field. A second coil, embedded in the device that’s being charged, can convert the energy in that magnetic field back into standard electricity.
It’s a wild-sounding advancement for anyone who has ever tripped over a bunch of knotted power cords. So why isn’t it widely available? Part of the holdup has to do with a battle over technical standards, which has splintered different interests in the industry.
Vehicle battery charging is familiar territory for WiTricity, which already had an investment from Toyota along with an agreement to supply wireless-charging technology for the car-maker’s electric vehicles.
WiTricity and CTEK didn’t disclose the terms of their agreement, but this appears to be a pure business deal, as there wasn’t any mention of an investment.
If we see more licensing deals like this, it might be a sign that Gruzen was on point last year, when he said 2015 would show “real progress” in getting wireless charging into the market. The drawer full of power cords and adapters in my house sure hopes he’s right.
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