Over-the-Air Wireless Charging Grips for Nintendo Joy-Con Controllers at CES

December 27, 2018 by Paul Shepard

Powercast Corporation today announced that it would unveil at CES Wireless Charging Grips for Nintendo Switch Joy-Con Controllers, the world's first gaming product that charges over the air without wires, plugs or charging mats. These grips automatically charge when within feet of Powercast's FCC- and ISED-approved PowerSpot® radio frequency (RF) wireless power transmitter, so users never have to dock their controllers, plug into power, or stop playing due to a low battery.

Wireless Charging Grips for Nintendo Switch Joy-Con Controllers automatically charge when within two feet of Powercast's PowerSpot wireless transmitter without wires, plugs or charging mats. Users never have to dock their controllers, plug into power, or stop playing due to a low battery.

Grips on the market today are simple plastic accessories that Nintendo Joy-Con game controllers snap into that make them easier to hold.  Powercast has added contactless wireless charging functionality to create intelligent grips (left, right and double-controller versions) that charge Joy-Cons and double as a backup battery pack.

Powercast's Powerharvester® receiver and a battery are embedded in the grips. The Powerharvester harnesses power sent over the air to charge the embedded battery, which then charges the batteries in the Joy-Cons until they are fully charged.

The grips also act as a backup battery pack, keeping the Joy-Con batteries topped off when out of the transmitter's range for about 38 hours of gameplay on one charge.

Gamers never have to dock their Joy-Con controllers and instead can leave them inside the grips for carefree wireless charging.  The grips receive power when placed within about two feet of the PowerSpot transmitter, achieving a full charge between gaming sessions. An LED illuminates when the grips are charging and turns off when they're done.

Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) enables intelligent wireless charging where power is only sent as needed. The grips request power from the transmitter when their batteries are low, and tell it to stop when charged.

Powercast's focus remains helping its customers develop their own power-over-distance wireless charging consumer devices. Demonstrations are planned in Powercast's CES booth, and the company expects multiple product releases in 2019.

Charles Greene, Ph.D., chief operating and technical officer of Powercast, explains the company's inspiration for also bringing its own wireless charging device to market. "Many of us at Powercast are Nintendo Switch gamers, and we often found that we'd let our batteries die by forgetting to dock our controllers," said Greene. "Realizing our technology could solve the problem, we developed a product that lets the Joy-Cons charge without docking when you walk away from a gaming session."

Greene continued, "Our vision is to enable long-range, true wireless charging where consumers simply place all their PowerSpot-enabled devices within range of a PowerSpot transmitter in their home or a public place." Up to 30 enabled devices in the charging zone will automatically connect and receive power, sharing the transmitter's three-watt (EIRP) output. Instructions included with enabled devices will show their recommended charging distance and time.

"We are proud of our track record of delivering practical wireless power products that work, safely and responsibly, under FCC and other global standards," said Greene. "We've developed the most efficient power harvesting technology that's permitted within today's standards. Our robust technology also has capabilities beyond that, so look for our product releases to evolve as regulations do."

At CES 2019:

Powercast will be in booth #41767 at the Sands Expo in the Smart Home Marketplace. The company will showcase first versions of its Wireless Charging Grips, which it plans to bring to market in Q3 2019. Powercast will also feature its PowerSpot transmitter, FCC- and ISED-approved in late December 2017, which began shipping in Q3 from distributors Arrow, Digi-Key, and Mouser Electronics.

Powercast will also demonstrate wirelessly rechargeable headphones, a keyboard, smart card, and various sensor devices along with development tools that facilitate wireless power designs.

Powercast will also showcase several wirelessly powered consumer products developed with partners. The first example is ViewTag's reusable, updateable digital luggage tag, which British Airways is expected to make available to its passengers beginning early 2019. Passengers can check their bag in from anywhere via their Bluetooth-enabled phone, and then simply drop it off at check-in. The embedded technologies enable swift check-in with future bag-tracking capabilities built in as well.

Batteryless printed electronics products jointly developed with PPG will also be on display, including LED-based wireless illumination solutions for smart consumer packaging, smart identification (ID) cards, and reconfigurable retail price tags.