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Pi charges wirelessly

A pair of Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduates have created the first wireless smartphone charger that doesn't need mats to work.

Lixin Shi and John MacDonald co-founded the Pi charger, which is able to wirelessly charge multiple devices that are placed up to 30 centimetres away from the main hub.

Shi said: "The hard part was figuring out how to make magnetic charging more flexible, multi-device and extend its useful range. It took us over a year to complete the mathematical proof that makes it all possible."

The device uses a manipulated magnetic field to charge smartphones and tablets within range.

John told Tech Crunch: "What's at the heart of this is this algorithm that lets us shape a magnetic field. It's an old idea ... but, the real genius behind this - my co-founder Lixin [Shi] - he was able to reduce this problem that was so complicated that you'd need several minutes of compute time on the latest i7 processor to solve. He came up with these matrices that could prove that you could get to an optimal solution in just two clock cycles on a simple microcontroller."

The connected device will charge faster when it is nearer the hub and it is currently only able to work with smartphones and tablets as it runs with a maximum power output of 20W.

Asked about pricing, they said: "We don't have exact pricing today, but it'll be well under $200 and we'll maintain above 50 percent gross margin.

"A lot of it has to do with the verticals we can reach. We're starting with consumer, but the enterprise is what we want to follow up with. If you use it at home, you'll want one in the office. If there's one in the office, you'll want one in the conference room."

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