What is Radio Frequency (RF) harvesting technology?
Mobile devices like tablets and phones use RF waves – like WiFi, Bluetooth and LTE – to transmit data through the air. These RF waves are a form of energy and can be harnessed to create electricity. The process of converting RF into direct current (DC) power was first pioneered by Nikola Tesla over a century ago.
Did you know phones emit and waste large amounts of RF energy?
At Nikola Labs we use technology invented by Dr. Chi-Chih Chen and his research team at The Ohio State University ElectroScience Laboratory to harvest RF energy.
Meet Chi-Chih in the video below.
Nikola technology slows the rate at which the phone’s internal battery discharges, without impacting data transmission rates or call quality. Over time, you can see that the slower battery drain rate adds up to significant overall improvements in battery life performance.
Available for iPhone 6 and Galaxy S6, the Nikola phone case is your first chance to experience this technology.
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The idea of bypassing cords and delivering power through the air isn’t new. In fact, around the turn of the last century, Nikola Tesla— the father of modern electricity— dreamed of a future entirely powered by wireless electricity.
University Technology Partnership
Through an innovative partnership with the The Ohio State University, the founding team at Nikola Labs saw an opportunity to leverage Dr. Chi-Chih Chen’s extensive background in antenna design and energy harvesting. Along with co-inventors Emre Koksal, Ness Shroff and Roland Tallos, Dr. Chen developed technology that could harvest wasted RF energy from mobile devices. The idea for the RF harvesting phone case powered by Nikola technology was born.
Developing the Technology
Although the team had expertise in the technology, designing the harvesting antenna for the iPhone 6 was no easy task. Through countless iterations in board design, the team saw great improvements in the lab. We were surprised to see just how much energy we could harvest through wasted RF waves.
Prototyping the Case
After proving the technology in the lab, we needed to bring the phone case to life. This involved many iterations of rapid prototyping and user testing of both the phone case and antenna design. We needed to get this technology in the hands of real people.
Although we have many revisions of working prototypes, we’re still iterating the case design to optimize performance and manufacturability.
To showcase Nikola technology to the public, we went to TechCrunch Disrupt New York. The team generated so much buzz in Startup Alley that we landed a spot presenting in the Startup Battlefield.
Feedback at Disrupt New York was so overwhelmingly positive that we decided to also bring Nikola technology to Android users by launching a case for the Galaxy S6.
Local Supply Chain
Building community is critical to our mission at Nikola Labs, and we believe that building a strong community starts with local. That’s why we are sourcing nearly all of our suppliers right here in Ohio.
Powering What’s Next
Our vision is beyond just this phone case. We’re working to enable an entire platform for powering future devices. We want to build a community to help bring this technology to other devices and industries.
Our goal is fulfill our rewards within 6 months after the end of our campaign. With an estimated ship date of February 2016, we have made progress on our journey to get this technology in the hands of our backers. We still have quite a bit of work to do to make this a reality. This includes:
Additional User Testing and Prototyping: Our iPhone 6 user test results have exceeded our expectations. Over the next two months we will conduct additional user testing for the iPhone 6, Samsung S6 and additional phone models.
Design for Manufacture: To meet our delivery timeline we are quickly moving our PCB and case designs for the iPhone 6 and Samsung S6 to final design for manufacturing.
Manufacturing: We have intentionally build the majority of our supply chain local in Central Ohio. We are closely engaged with our supply partners and will have the early stages of the manufacturing process in motion before our Kickstarter campaign ends.
Fulfillment: Our mission is to deliver a superior product to our backers within six months after the Kickstarter campaign. Every waking moment for much of our team will be focused on this one goal!
Future Product Development: Our line of cases is just the beginning for Nikola Labs. Our team has outlined the next products we will launch and our R&D team is dedicated to this innovation.
Risks and challenges
We have already reached many milestones as a company, the most important being the validation of our technology, and great results from lab and user testing. Many hurdles remain in front of us with many risks. Here are our short term challenges and the steps we are taking to mitigate risks.
Challenge: Delivering a superior product with great form, fit and function.
Solution: We are partnering with companies in Central Ohio with extensive experience in design for manufacturing.
Challenge: Delivering product on a promised timeline.
Solution: We have built the vast majority of our supply chain local to Central Ohio. We are already meeting regularly with each supplier to ensure we are aligned on goals, timelines and quickly solving problems as they arise.
Challenge: Regulatory Compliance
Solution: Our technology requires a regimen of compliance tests which pose the risk of delaying our production timelines. We have partnered with an industry leading company that will manage our compliance requirements to enable distribution across the globe.