CableLabs: WiFi Hotspots With Lasers Could Spark Wireless Charging

If Comcast, Cox and Charter commercialize an invention published Thursday, subscribers using new mobile services the cable MSOs are developing may be able to charge smartphones and tablets wirelessly.

The invention, detailed in a patent application from technology consortium CableLabs, details how millions of CableWiFi hotspots could be upgraded with hardware and software capable of powering mobile devices from electromagnetic energy sources that transmit lasers.

“Once the network element verifies that the UE [user equipment] is a subscriber of the MSO, then the network element may direct a directional laser source … towards the UE,” CableLabs states in the patent application.

The invention may also be another way for cable MSOs to drive incremental revenue from both subscribers and non-subscribers. “The network element may charge/bill the user of the for the service and then direct the EM [electromagnetic] radiation source to radiate to the UE,” CableLabs writes in the patent application.

Bernie McKibbenCableLabs Principal Architect Bernie McKibben and Architect Neeharika  Allanki are named as inventors on the patent application, titled, “Systems and methods for wirelessly charging electronic devices.”

Officials at CableLabs declined to comment when asked how long it may take to commercially deploy the invention detailed in the patent application.

Abstract: Systems and methods presented herein provide for powering of electronics. One powering system disclosed herein includes a database comprising subscription information for a plurality of network users and an electromagnetic energy source. The powering system also includes a communication hub colocated with the electromagnetic energy source and operable to establish a communication link with an electronic device of a first of the network users. The powering system also includes a network element communicatively coupled to the communication hub through a communication network to receive subscription information from the electronic device via the communication hub. The network element is further operable to access the database to verify the subscription information of the first user, and to direct the electromagnetic energy source to radiate towards the electronic device to power to the electronic device upon verification of the subscription information of the first user.

Neeharika AllankiClaims:

1. A powering system for electronic devices, the system comprising: a database comprising subscription information for a plurality of network users; an electromagnetic energy source; a communication hub colocated with the electromagnetic energy source and operable to establish a communication link with an electronic device of a first of the network users; and a network element communicatively coupled to the communication hub through a communication network to receive subscription information from the electronic device via the communication hub, wherein the network element is further operable to access the database to verify the subscription information of the first user, and to direct the electromagnetic energy source to radiate towards the electronic device to power to the electronic device upon verification of the subscription information of the first user.

2. The powering system of claim 1, wherein: the electromagnetic energy source is a laser.

3. The powering system of claim 1, wherein: the electromagnetic energy source is a directional medium coupled to retro-reflective mirrors to form directional light resonance.

4. The powering system of claim 1, wherein: the electromagnetic energy source comprises a directional radio frequency antenna.

5. The powering system of claim 1, wherein: the communication hub is a WiFi Access Point.

6. The powering system of claim 1, wherein: the communication hub is a cell tower.

7. The powering system of claim 1, wherein: the network element is operable to determine that the communication hub is owned by a Multi System Operator (MSO) that is different from an MSO of the network element, to determine that the electronic device is roaming, and to allow monetary charging to the first user for roaming service of the electronic device.

8. A method for powering electronic devices, the method comprising: establishing a communication link between an electronic device of a network user and a communication hub; receiving, at a network element, subscription information from the electronic device through a communication network via the communication hub; accessing a database to verify the subscription information of the network user; and directing an electromagnetic energy source to radiate towards the electronic device to power to the electronic device upon verification of the subscription information of the first user.

9. The method of claim 8, wherein: the electromagnetic energy source is a laser.

10. The method of claim 8, wherein: the electromagnetic energy source is a directional medium coupled to retro-reflective mirrors to form directional light resonance.

11. The method of claim 8, wherein: the electromagnetic energy source comprises a directional Radio Frequency (RF) antenna.

12. The method of claim 8, wherein: the communication hub is a WiFi Access Point.

13. The method of claim 8, wherein: the communication hub is a cell tower.

14. The method of claim 8, further comprising: determining that the communication hub is owned by a Multi System Operator (MSO) that is different from an MSO of the network element; determining that the electronic device is roaming; and allowing monetary charging to the first user for roaming service of the electronic device.