At CES, AA-Sized ‘Forever Batteries’ That Suck Power Out of the Air

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The Consumer Electronics Show (CES), if you’ve never seen it, is a frantic grab-bag of aching feet, glitzy product demos, hotel and conference center meetings, and a handful of major keynotes and presentations. For every breakthrough product, there’s a score of cheap imitations and bad ideas. But every now and then, a company shows up with an idea that surprises you — and the Forever Battery and its associated technology, dubbed Cota, could be a heck of a product one day.

The battery company Ossia has developed a method of wireless power transmission that they claim can keep a AA battery charged up (that’s the image above) or provide power to a smartphone that either incorporates Cota’s technology natively or uses a specific charging case. Ossia hasn’t revealed much about how Cota works, beyond making a vague reference to it working like Wi-Fi (not particularly helpful). According to Ossia, Cota works because the Cota Transmitter contains dozens of tiny RF antennas, with similar antennas mounted within the AA battery, charging case, or hypothetical smartphone.

Using these antennas, the Cota transmitter is able to triangulate and lock on to the Cota Receiver. It then calculates the best signal path and transmits your wireless power accordingly. According to Ossia (which developed its own technology but licenses it to other companies), Cota works while moving, around corners, beyond line-of-sight, and regardless of people or objects in the way — within reason, one presumes. Your giant collection of lead pipes from Roman Empire-era sewers might still give the poor thing fits. [Where exactly do you live again, Joel? -Ed]

Ossia-Works

Ossia’s Cota-powered Forever Battery is intended to make a device compatible with the Cota Transmitter, even if the device doesn’t include native support. Theoretically, one could use them in TV remotes, game controllers, AA-powered IoT devices, or any other product that requires normal AA batteries. In all honesty, it sounds pretty cool. Whether it’ll be successful is another question entirely.

There are already two other wireless power standards: Qi and Rezence. Ossia apparently represents yet another potential standard. And while the dream of effortless wireless charging is a potent one, we need to know more about issues like transmitter range, power consumption, and how the system handles higher power draw from the Cota Forever Battery itself. It’s one thing to provide enough power to charge an idle cell phone from a foot away, and something else entirely to provide sufficient power to drive a game controller from a longer distance. The answers to these questions will answer just how revolutionary Ossia and its Cota technology actually is.

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