ARK is one of the latest portable wireless device chargers for people who are tired of having to tether their smartphone or tablet to an outlet when it runs out of juice. The small, block-like base uses Qi, an interoperable standard developed by the Wireless Power Consortium and is currently raising funds on Kickstarter.
ARK was created by a Los Angeles-based startup called BEZALEL, and is compatible with all Qi-certified devices, including the iPhone 4 and later, the Nokia Lumia series, and Samsung Galaxy S3/S4, and Nexus 4.
It’s important to note, however, that iPhones need a charging case to work with ARK, which will be shipped with the base (though a case for the iPhone 5c is still being developed). Samsung Galaxy devices, meanwhile, must use a patch that attaches to their batteries. ARK can be used directly with devices that are Qi-wireless charging capable.
Despite those drawbacks, ARK seeks to differentiate from its competitors in a couple ways. Based on tests with the iPhone 5s, ARK’s creators claim it can charge phones 20% faster than other wireless chargers and 5% faster than cable-charging from battery packs. The base’s battery can hold up to three full charges and it also has a USB port to allow for dual charging, which is handy if you carry around a tablet and smartphone. (The Energizer Qi-Enabled 3 Position Inductive Charger also charges multiple devices at one time, but it is much larger and less portable than ARK).
Other wireless chargers include the iQi Mobile, which recently raised $161,681 on Indiegogo, blowing past its $30,000 goal. The iQi Mobile uses a ribbon-like Lightning adaptor to charge iPhones, which makes it much more attractive for people who prefer to use their own cases. All Qi devices are up against the Duracell Powermat system, which has gained traction through installations at high traffic venues like airports and coffee shops, as well as integration with certain vehicles in the 2013 Chevrolet Volt line.
(Then there is Cota by Ossia, which debuted at TechCrunch Disrupt in September. Consumer versions won’t be available until 2015, but once they are, they’ll let users charge their smartphones automatically whenever they are within range of Cota’s base. Created by physicist Hatem Zeine, Ossia’s technology lets the Cota deliver power wirelessly to devices over distances of around 10 feet using the same unlicensed spectrum as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and other communication standards.)
But though ARK competes with several wireless chargers, there’s still plenty of demand for the device. It has already raised $26,616 of its $35,000 goal on Kickstarter, and with 39 days left to go, ARK has a very good chance of reaching its goal. Remaining pledges start at $63, with an estimated delivery date in March.