Wireless Charging Will Soon Unleash the Mobile World

Carl Weinschenk
Slide Show

Mobility: How It's Changing Our Lives

Wireless charging is a win for everyone. Device owners don’t have to find lost cables or figure out what to do when they realize they didn’t pack them. Manufacturers cut down on what is largely a lost expense and the material and energy wasted to produce new charging gear for every device sold is eliminated.

Such a sensible idea usually is welcomed by investors and vendors, and the market for wireless charging is expanding. Fortune quotes IHS predictions that the global market overall, which includes cars, health care equipment and other devices as well as smartphones and tablets, will expand from $216 million last year to $8.5 billion in 2018.

The basic science of induction is old, but it has not taken off for a few reasons, such as difficulty in addressing the market and conflicting standards—the old standby problem. But wireless charging is finding its footing.


Just a few examples of how wireless charging is developing:

  • SlashGear reports that PowerSquare has pushed the technology to enable multiple devices placed haphazardly on what is described as a charging platform with a “relatively large face.” The system uses the Qi charging system, which is one of the two putative standards.
  • ZDNet this week described a patent granted to Apple that will enable charging without cables or charging pads. The application for patent 8,796,885 was filed more than two years ago with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. It involves a near-field magnetic resonance (NFMR) to wirelessly transmit power. Such a device can be cleverly deployed:
    • "The filing says under the system an NFMR power supply inside, say, a computer could charge any number of suitably configured devices wirelessly at a distance of up to about one metre."
  • International Business Times describes images of the Moto 360 smartwatch that a blogger named Mister Gadget, who is actually Luca Viscardi, released. It includes a wireless charger that will accompany the device. The story says that the charger is sleek but more cumbersome than the one offered by Android Wear.
  • The New York Times posted an interesting story on a young scientist who is pushing the wireless charging envelope. Meredith Perry was an astrobiology student at the University of Pennsylvania when she stumbled upon a method of converting electricity to sound, transmitting it over a distance and converting back to electricity. Her company, uBeam, has evolved an early version of the device to a fully functional prototype.

Clearly, the idea of dragging around a wire and immobilizing a supposedly mobile device for hours while it charges, only to then throw out the wire when a new device is bought, doesn’t make much sense. The good news is that this wasteful and inefficient requirement is fading away.

Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at cweinsch@optonline.net and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.



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