Sony patent lets devices leech power off others wirelessly

Despite years of promises, wireless charging has yet to really took root in the consumer's mind. It is still not an in-demand feature in smartphones the way waterproofing or, to some degree, microSD card slots, have become. In a chicken or egg situation, wireless charging pads, especially in public places, aren't as common as well, making it inconvenient to rely on wireless technology? But what if topping off your smartphone means simply just placing it nearby another? That is the interesting, and partly scary, scenario that Sony's latest patent paints, where one device can recharge itself by sucking out power from another. Wirelessly, of course.

Rest assured, nothing like that exists yet. Or at least not in the way Sony's patent lays out. The patent, formally titled "Configuration of Data and Power Transfer in Near Field Communications", describes a system where two devices each equipped with antennae can wirelessly transmit power or data. Data is perhaps easier, since we already do that today, but Sony's system is a bit more complex than your regular data transfer, requiring some level of encryption.

The power trading part is more interesting, considering it's both unheard of and a bit silly if you think about it. It combines the features of your run of the mill wireless charging and USB-C's two-way power delivery capability. So in case your phone desperately needs a charge, you can put it near or on top your friend's (or maybe a total stranger?) phone and take power from it. Of course, that other device isn't built as a power source, so naturally it also drains it in the process. It isn't exactly a symbiotic relationship.

As the patent's title implies, it makes use of near filed communication technology, a.k.a. NFC, to make it happen. NFC is already used to transfer data using very little power, but that's only in short bursts and not huge amounts of continuous data. It definitely isn't being used yet to transfer power. Whether Sony actually has something like that already or is still on the drawing board, the patent gives it the right to call dibs on the technology. If it ever takes off, that is.