Neotes has announced that it has succeeded in developing a completely new wireless power transmission technology that solves all the various obstacles that have been major issues with conventional wireless transfer.
Wireless power supply systems have been anticipated to rapidly increase the convenience of things like electric vehicles (EV) and mobile devices today. The wireless power transmission technology developed by Neotes is able to maintain high efficiency charging despite misalignment between coils or changes in distance. Additionally, this technology has a wide power range and is effective at lowering cost, at once solving the issues around wireless power transfer, and is expected to lead to rapid expansion of the market.
Magnetic Resonance (MR) was popular technique for EV’s wireless power transferring. On the other hand, wireless power supply systems using Magnetic Induction (MI) based on the Qi international standard have been developed, and wireless charging of smart phones and other cell phones is becoming commonplace.
The biggest issue with existing systems is lack of robustness, or a lack of freedom in positioning. Robustness is traded off with charging efficiency, though the desire is to be able to achieve both.
“The root cause is that the theory behind resonant circuits is wrong. The MR method depends on the resonance between the transmit coil and the receive coil, like the resonance phenomenon with tuning forks. The right way to do it is to have resonance only in the receiving coil. We have proved this in the development of our own technology, namely invertors for LCD backlights,” says Masakazu Ushijima, President at Neotes.
The revolutionary new technology from Neotes is comprised of three things: Advanced Magnetic Resonance (AMR), which improves on the MR method for resonance on the receiving side; power control on the receiving side (current regulators, reverse logic regulators); and phase synchronization/current resonant circuits (PS/CRS). A particular key is the PS/CRS, which isn’t found in conventional systems. This detects the phase of the resonant current flowing in the resonant circuit on in the receive coil and feeds that information back to the transmit coil to maintain synchronization. This succeeds in achieving both improved robustness and high efficiency by automatically tracking changes in resonant frequency.
Neotes has developed both optical coupling and electromagnetic coupling for synchronizing the phase. The former uses infrared LEDs, while the latter uses electromagnetic waves, with the former being available first. Neotes has already been awarded patents on the technology in Japan and 10 other countries.
The superiority of the Neotes technology is in its high robustness and charging efficiency. The system can maintain high charging efficiency despite coil misalignment or changes in distance. Coils can now be misaligned by over half the coil diameter. Charging efficiency is generally above 80 %, and can reach up to 95 %.
The supported power range is broad, from 5 W to 100 kW, allowing the technology to support lower power, medium power and high power applications. This allows application to a variety of uses, from small to large. Also, a resonant circuit is not needed on the transmit coil, enabling the use of low-priced components for reduced system cost. The new technology can be retrofitted to existing systems, enabling system upgrades.
Neotes is currently developing and shipping miniature semiconductor modules and development kits. A miniature semiconductor module for smart doors has recently been completed. Neotes is also planning to design an IC, and is looking for a fab. The IC will enable even lower cost, as well as small- and mid-volume production.
“We’ve had many inquiries for applications such as AGVs, toys, drones, mobility scooters and wheelchairs, digital signage, arcades, and robots. In toys, our technology has been used in an AI-based doll developed by a Japanese company. A Japanese drone company is planning to include our technology in a landing pad automatic charging system. Our technology is also used in an underwater wireless power transfer system for an underwater robot developed by the University of Tokyo’s Institute of Industrial Science,” says Ushijima.
Neotes plans to continue to roll out the technology, targeting AGVs, mobile devices, drones, EVs, toys, etc. Inquiries regarding AGVs for logistics and warehouse demand are particularly strong. Mobile devices are mainstream in the market, but are always in search of new value add features other than just higher performance cameras. Chances are good that the market will adopts Neotes technology for charging systems that are tolerant of misalignment. Drones are being used more and more for industrial and construction applications; demand is likely to increase for wireless power transfer systems to enable long distance flights and automated flight.
Another field likely to see vigorous demand is for EVs. Increasing adoption of EVs around the world, as well as concepts like Smart City and V2H (Vehicle to Home), provide a strong tailwind for penetration of charging infrastructure.
In its infancy, the wireless power transfer system industry was forecast to be around 1 trillion yen; it has actually not yet achieved a scale of 200 billion yen. However, improvements in convenience will help recover this lost market. There is a good possibility the market will reach several trillion yen in the future.
Some of Ushijima’s representative inventions for the LCD include the world’s smallest pencil inverter in 1992, and a cold cathode fluorescent lamp array backlight system in 2003. Both these have been adopted around the world. This new technology was developed in 2014 by applying the technology for LCD backlight inverters.
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