New Nintendo Switch Joy-Con grip charges from a range of 2 feet
Powercast, a company that specializes in over-the-air wireless charging, is set to unveil three new products at CES 2020. The big-ticket item is a wireless charging grip for Nintendo Switch Joy-Con controllers, which can charge the devices from about 2 feet (0.6 m) from a wireless power transmitter. The company is also demonstrating sports and travel products which make use of its wireless technology.
Wireless charging grip
Powercast’s wireless charging grip essentially replaces the standard Comfort Grip that turns the Nintendo Switch’s Joy-Con’s into a twin-stick gaming controller for use with a docked Switch connected to a TV. Though Nintendo does produce a powered version of the grip, it needs a wired connection to charge the Joy-Cons.
Unlike other near-field charging technology which create magnetic fields to charge battery-operated devices, Powercast’s technology uses radio waves emitted in the 915 MHz ISM band by its PowerSpot RF Wireless Transmitter, which can be harvested for energy with receivers embedded in the device being charged.
The advantage of Powercast’s grip is that it charges the Joy-Cons while functioning as a twin-stick controller. The device itself contains a battery, so more than merely distributing power directly to the Joy-Cons, it can itself act as a back-up battery.
The grip draws power from the transmitter, and uses a Bluetooth Low Energy connection to make sure that power is only sent to the device when needed.
The device should appeal most to gamers who already use their Joy-Cons with a grip and docked Switch as it removes the need to connect the Joy-Cons back to the Switch, or plug in a charging cabled to a regular charging grip.
Powercast’s wireless charging grip is due for release via Amazon in the first half of the year.
Sport and travel devices
Powercast has also partnered with Sportcor and British Airways, to bring its wireless technology to the worlds of sport and air travel.
Australian company Sportcor has developed an embeddable electronics device which can be used to turn sports equipment into intelligent, connected devices. Sensors built into the small gadget can measure speed, distance, force, location and rotation.
Needless to say, this all needs an onboard battery, which is where Powercast’s wireless charging technology comes in. The device has been adopted by Australian cricket ball maker Kookaburra, and the use of Powercast’s technology means no charging port, or means of dismantling the ball, is needed: it simply needs to be placed in a charging cable.
The battery is said to be good for 8 hours which, judging by the direction test cricket is going, should be good to see out most of an innings.
Powercast has also partnered with ViewTag in creating electronic baggage tags for British Airways. These allow passengers to tag their own bags when checking into a flight. The tag uses Powercast’s technology to harvest power from airport RFID equipment when within range. Powercast says the tag should last for some 3,000 flights.
Though Powercast’s technology is limited to short-range charging, the company hopes to be able to charge devices from a range of 80 ft (24 m) in the future.
If you’re at CES 2020, Powercast can be found at booth 42161, Sands Expo. The company's CES promo reel is below.