Like with almost anything, Apple’s adoption of an existing technology is a sure way to boost said technology (and rewrite history in the process). This year, it’s wireless charging, thanks to the iPhone X. But while wireless charging promises the convenience of having no wires, it doesn’t exactly deliver complete freedom. You still have to put your phone on top of a flat surface. That’s where the Pi comes in. Billing itself as the world’s first truly wireless and contactless charger, it doesn’t require users to place their devices on it. In fact, given it’s conical shape, you really can’t anyway.
The trick is to charge devices “over the air”. That has been a long-time dream not only of wireless charging proponents but any user as well. Imagine being able to simply put down your phone or tablet, in any position, and have it charged. The problem is that power isn’t easily transmitted over the air. Plus, charging devices requires a minimum amount of power that isn’t safely transmitted through known wireless means.
Pi claims to have figured all those out, with a healthy does of math. It uses magnetic fields instead of the expected microwave, ultrasound, or laser media, to safely send the right amount of power to charge devices without aversely affecting anything else around it, including you. It changes the angle of magnetic fields so that they reach your device, no matter how you place it nearby.
There are, of course, trade-offs. The Pi charger itself comes in the form of a large cone with its top chopped off. It takes up more space than a discreet charging pad but it can at least be shared by multiple devices as the same time. And while you’re free to put down your phone or tablet in any angle or position, it has to be within one feet of the cone. That means devices are going to crowd around that circle.
And since it uses a new, non-standard technology, it won’t work with any device by itself. Yes, you’ll need to use a case with the matching resonant receiver. Based on the press photos, Pi defines “gorgeous” quite differently. Either way, you can kiss your pretty glass or ceramic rear good bye.
This is all presuming the Pi does work as advertised. Without any device yet in the market, that will be hard to test. The Pi wireless charger is accepting pre-registrations, though no exact launch date has been given yet.