Confronting the Wireless Charger Problem

Carl Weinschenk

One of the constants of the past few years is that the number of portable devices per person is on the rise. The per-user ratio will become even greater as tablets grow in popularity, since they will at least initially be additive to the total amount of devices a consumer or business worker uses.


Observers-which include vendors, IT departments, environmentalists and others-have long seen current charging procedures as wasteful and cumbersome. Users must sort through a rat's nest of cables and wires. They must remember to take the right charger. And a charger, which costs something to produce, instantaneously becomes trash when the device it powers is replaced.


This awareness of the problem is leading to innovation. ABI Research said this week that the market for advanced charging technologies-in which it includes "solar-powered handsets, solar chargers, wireless power units, fuel-cell battery charging products and public charging kiosks" -- will grow by more than 200 percent between now and 2015. The compound annual growth rate (CAGR) will be 86 percent. The dollar value will increase from $1.5 billion to $34 billion during the term of the study.


The other side of the overall effort to reform recharging technology is the drive for standards-based universal chargers.The Wireless Power Consortium, which was formed in December of 2008, agreed this summer to the Qi low power standard. The standard covers the interface, performance requirements and compliance test procedures, says ZDNet. The consortium has 27 members, including Nokia, HTC, LG, Research in Motion and Samsung.


Such an obvious need attracts vendors the same way folks who slip on sidewalks attract personal injury attorneys. Here are some recent introductions:



  • The Powermat wireless charger uses a custom battery door -- a replacement back cover that fits on supported devices -- to recharge. The device, which was introduced this month, begins operating when the device rests on the Powermat pad. The Android Community post has a nice video demonstrating the Powermat, which supports the HTC EVO 4G, Motorola DROID X, HTC HD2, BlackBerry Bold 9700, BlackBerry Curve 8500/9300 and iPhone 4, according to the post.



Device powering isn't a sexy topic. But it is vitally important simply because of its size. The innovation in the market place, coupled with the Oi standard, suggests that the sector finally is getting the attention it deserves.

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