LAS VEGAS – Another CES, another promise of truly wireless power coming into our lives in the very near future. Year after year we’ve seen demo after demo but no real shipping products.
But Guru, a startup based in Pasadena, California, says that its solution is different, and better than anything else that’s out there. Wait, haven’t we heard that before, too?
“The basic science is proven, but there are structural market problems to overcome and companies have run into implementation issues, said Avi Greengart, lead analyst at Techsponential.
Here at CES 2020, I got a demo of Guru’s over-the-air wireless charging tech and spoke to company CEO Florian Bohn to learn how it all works. I also checked out a couple of Guru’s direct competitors to see how the true wireless charging war is shaping up.
What is Guru and how is it different?
Guru is a “zero-contact” energy system that uses radio waves to carry energy through the air, from a Guru generator to a device with a recovery unit (basically the receiver). This unit has a thin array of circuits that announces it presence to the generator, and also determines how much energy the gadget needs.
The generator converts electricity into high-frequency millimeter wave radio energy, similar to what’s being used to deploy 5G networks. The use of mmWaves is a critical component of Guru, because this allows the radio waves beams to be highly focused. This is what Guru calls Smart RF Lensing.
“Smart RF Lensing allows us to achieve long range, efficient power deliver with small product form factors,” said Bohn.
The recovery unit could be placed on the back of a device, or embedded directly into it. This unit could also potentially be used in things like phone cases or smart home devices, such as robot vacuums or security cameras.
Guru in action
At CES, Guru was showing off a couple of examples of how its wireless charging might work. One was Rovee, a robot vacuum with a Guru generator inside. The idea was that that it could charge other IoT gadgets around your home as it roamed around.
Another example was a lamp-sized desktop device that could be deployed in a conference room, which would charge multiple smartphones at the same time.
I got an up-close look at the third prototype from Guru: a ceiling-mounted generator that can send power to a receiver pad attached to a phone. I could see that the generator was delivering power, because a Guru rep also waved a tiny light bulb with a receiver attached to it around the base of the device. The light bulb lit up when the rep brought it near the generator.
Is Guru safe?
Because the mmWave beams are directed and focused, Guru says that the signals go only where you want them to, and nowhere else. Wi-Fi, by contrast, spits out energy in all directions. Guru also claims that its energy beams have “shallow penetration depth” and cannot reach internal organs.
But Guru also doesn’t take any chances. As an…