Tech Behind Spigen’s Smartphone-Charging Cases Scores Key Win

Cota transmitter and Spigen case prototype. Credit: OssiaCota transmitter and Spigen case prototype. Credit: Ossia

Ossia, the company behind an over-the-air-charging technology named Cota Real Wireless Power, has earned approval from the FCC, the U.S. telecoms regulator, for its invention.

For Ossia, this means their tech is ready for 2.4 GHz deployments in business environments. But for the average consumer, this means we’re even closer to getting those nifty Spigen-brand cases, known as the Forever Sleeve, that charge your smartphone without wires or a pad.

Forever Sleeve prototypeForever Sleeve prototypeWe went hands-on with a Cota-powered Spigen case prototype during the CES tech trade show in January. Basically, each case will be equipped with a silicon chip that sends a signal to a transmitter (which can take various form factors, including subtle ones). The transmitter then sends power back to the device, if needed. With a Spigen Forever Sleeve, your smartphone could charge from your pocket, as long as you're within 10m from a transmitter.

Today, the FCC certified the Cota transmitter and receiver for wireless power delivery (Parts 18) and data communications (Parts 18) operating at 2.4 Ghz from up to 1m, allowing them to be sold in the U.S.

Mario Obeidat, CEO of Ossia, told Tom’s Hardware that this is a "critical” first step for validating Cota technology with global regulators. He noted that the Spigen smartphone cases couldn’t be sold in the U.S. without FCC approval, which is required for all wireless devices sold commercially.

“This certification confirms the inherent safety of the Cota technology in environments with people. This news supports Spigen’s selection of Ossia as best-in-class wireless power technology and provides continued momentum for development of the Cota-powered Spigen phone case,” Obeidat said.

When asked what the hardest part about securing these certifications was, Obeidat pointed to Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) requirements for safety. The exec said Ossia had to work hard to optimize the wireless power system as well as create “rigorous” testing criteria. It then took “many months” of collaboration with the FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology to ensure the testing protocol considered any scenario to which the FCC’s rules might apply.

But Cota still needs certification for transmitting power at a higher frequency before it’s ready for smartphone cases. The plan is for the Spigen cases to receive power at a 5.8 GHz frequency. Once Ossia and Spigen are done making that a reality, they’ll have to submit to the FCC again.

Meanwhile, Ossia expects devices based on the 2.4 GHz tech to hit the market in 2020 via commercial partners. It pointed to 5G and IoT-related use cases. Note that you can charge up to 1,000 devices at a time with one transmitter.

The Spigen over-the-air charging smartphone cases are expected to arrive by 2020, cost less than $100 and be slightly larger than their typical cases.

Ossia will also work for certification across additional countries.