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Softbank plans to charge electronic gadgets using 5G antennas
Japanese tech giant SoftBank plans to trial wireless charging of smartwatches and earbuds using power transmitted through 5G antennas.
The small electronics will be charged automatically as soon as the wearer comes close to a mobile 5G station, and the charging will continue for as long as they’re in range.
According to the first technical details shared by Nikkei Asia, that range will be roughly 10 meters, but the radius will eventually be extended to 100 meters.
Considering the heated discussions that have taken place around 5G safety in the last years, the proposal of delivering power using electromagnetic waves and charging devices positioned right on the head of the user is bound to be met with some recoil.
To ease any concerns, SoftBank explains that they will use only about 1 milliwatt of power, which is not enough to cause any harm or negative effects on the human body even after prolonged periods of exposure.
The electrical charge will be sent to compatible wearables in the 28 GHz frequency band, one of the two high-frequency bands (together with 26 GHz) used in 5G communications technology.
As such, the charging tech is physically no different from what has already been tested and approved as totally safe for use in urban environments.
SoftBank is merely planning to take advantage of a technology that will be omnipresent in Japan, where 200,000 5G base stations are planned for installation.
The charging controller unit that will be installed inside these stations will be jointly developed by SoftBank, the Kyoto University, the Kanazawa Institute of Technology, and the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology.
The government wants to test this new wireless charging tech indoors first and, if all goes according to the plan, it will be licensed for outdoor use in 2024.
Apart from having a full battery on your earbuds all day long while walking around Tokyo and listening to music, the possibility for new tech like electronic tags and health sensors will also be unlocked.
According to market analysts, the wireless charging market is estimated to grow to $15.3 billion by 2026, and it appears that the roll-out of 5G will be a crucial development.
Xiaomi has also presented something similar last January, calling it Mi Air Charge, saying it can be used to remotely charge electronic devices without the need to use wireless charging stands or cables.
Its implementation uses an array of 144 tiny antennas that transmit millimeter-wide waves directly to phones through beamforming, charging it remotely on 5 Watts.
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