Have you noticed that those increasingly ubiquitous Qi-protocol wireless-charging mats you set your phone on are kind of homely and take up a lot of space? And while they’re more convenient than plugging in via a cord, they also limit what you can do with your device while it’s charging. At the 2020 CES, Brooklyn-based startup Yank Technologies proposes replacing said mat with built-in and strategically placed magnetic resonance antennas powered by unique new amplifiers.
The near-field magnetic-resonance technology Yank employs is similar to what today’s Qi pads use, and like a Qi-enabled phone it will require a slim credit-card-sized receiver (different from the Qi one) to be built in or mounted to and plugged into any device brought into the vehicle. The charging power is 30 watts (assuming a nominal 12-volt electrical system, that’s a reasonable 2.5-amp recharge rate). In addition to being able to charge a device while it is located in any typical location within the cockpit (in a pocket, being used in the hands or at one’s ear, placed in a holder for navigation, etc. ), the Yank charger can also charge multiple devices at once and can even be used to wirelessly power various built-in vehicle devices—a feature manufacturers could use to simplify wiring harnesses. The company graphic embedded below suggests side-view mirrors and ignition key fobs as examples.
Right about here you’re fretting about pacemakers and whether being in a cockpit with this charging system would be like standing next to an old, leaky microwave oven. Josh Yank, CEO of Yank Technologies, explains that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulates radio-wave radiation using a Specific Absorption Rate (SAR), measured in watts per kilogram. The maximum safe limit they permit is 1.6 W/kg; a cell phone held to one’s ear typically emits 1.1-1.5 W/kg, and the Yank charging system emits just 0.06 W/kg while putting out the 30 watts it would take to charge multiple devices.
How does this new wireless-charging system manage to put out so much less harmful radiation than the phones it would be powering? Yank provides some context. “Your phones have gigahertz antennas, such as Wi-Fi. Our technology operates in the low megahertz ISM [frequency] bands. The higher the frequency, the higher your electric field levels typically are, and in turn the more harmful the radiation pattern typically becomes. Thus, even though we are transmitting more power than a phone, it is at a much longer wavelength so it is actually a safer radiation exposure.”
Yank Technologies is just rolling its new system out at the 2020 CES, so depending on whether a legacy or startup automaker bites, the earliest we’ll likely see Yank wireless charging built into a car is two to four years.