Nonstop Discovery: The Future of Wireless Charging
We recently discussed the storied evolution and history of wireless charging. Dating back to the late 1800’s and the famous scientist Nikola Tesla, the backbone for Qi Wireless Charging has been in place for over 100 years.
Yet, outside of electric toothbrushes, the use cases for wireless charging didn’t become mainstream until Android added Qi to their smartphones in 2012. Fast forward 6 years later - the wireless charging market is booming and shows no signs of slowing down. 700 million devices are projected to be Qi compatible by 2019, with that number skyrocketing to over 1 billion by 2020. Needless to say a mobile device world dominated by wireless charging is just around the corner.
It’s important to note how I said devices, not just phones. Smartphones are a natural starting point to get people on board with the benefits of wireless charging, but the use cases are much further reaching. Tablets, headphones, smartwatches - all commonly used electronics that will soon, if they haven’t already, use Qi.
Looking even broader Qi will eventually make its way into various household items, from power drills and lawn mowers, to coffee makers and televisions, everything we use that currently needs a cable/battery to stay charged, will one day utilize Qi wireless charging.
One of the more ambitious but potentially revolutionary use cases of wireless charging relates to wireless charging vehicles. Cars, buses, motorhomes, and more, could all one day be powered via wireless charging. And once the technology becomes widespread enough, we may eventually be able to drive around without EVER needing to stop and fill up gas or recharge.
Indeed, there’s exciting times ahead in the world of wireless charging.
Simply put, wireless charging unlocks the full potential of our favorite devices. The 21st century has seen some tremendous innovations in the form of smartphones, smart watches, bluetooth headphones, and much more. But even the most advanced technological innovations are still held captive by their charging cable - effectively limiting their use to a few hours.
Wireless charging has the potential to break this ball and chain relationship and give us a world without wires. While current iterations of wireless charging still require you to establish physical contact between the device and charger, the future reveals much bigger plans for wireless power consumption.
Where we’re Headed
One of the biggest benefits of Wireless Charging is the fact that a universal standard (Qi) exists. This means iPhone users can charge their Qi compatible iPhones on an Android charging pad and vice versa. This is critical to gaining mass adoption.
Tips for Hotels: Because a universal Standard (Qi) for wireless charging exists, the risk of a new charging method (such as the lightning cable) displacing Qi is very unlikely. By upgrading to Qi now, you are positioning yourself for the future. (But Don’t forget the USB Ports!)
We believe in the near future wireless charging will pop up everywhere you go. Picture this - a world where no matter where you are - the bar, restaurant, hair salon, daycare, wherever - you can set your phone down on ANY surface to get a charge. No need to worry about bringing an extra cable, or a phone dying mid-day. Just set your device down whenever you’re not using it and keep the battery topped off. In this way, wireless charging becomes as ubiquitous as WiFi and can completely revolutionize how we view power.
Taking it even one step further - what if new buildings have floors that were able to pass on power to the chairs and other furniture? No need to plug anything in, everything around you comes with a built in power source to keep all your favorite devices charged and ready to go. Sure this might be many years off, but the prospect is fascinating and may be closer than you think.
Many prominent companies, including Disney, see this as the future as well:
“This new innovative method will make it possible for electrical power to become as ubiquitous as WiFi,” said Alanson Sample, associate lab director and principal research scientist at Disney Research, to Phys.org.
Far-Field Wireless Charging
We spoke briefly about the coming wave of Far-Field wireless charging - which is the ability to charge devices over-the-air without needing to initiate any physical contact. Imagine being able to use your phone at the bar while keeping it fully charged without needing to set it down or plug anything in. Exciting, right? The potential of this technology is huge, and it will be the driving catalyst to the wireless charging car use case mentioned above.
Powercast is one company who is leading the way in this field. They describe themselves as the:
“Pioneer and leader of long-range, power-over-distance wireless charging technology using broadcasted RF energy (radio waves) converted into DC power.”
They’re ultimate goal? Eliminate Charging Ports.
The difficulty surrounding these solutions is figuring out how to transmit high outputs of power over a long distance in a safe and sustainable way. The last thing any companies want is to be responsible for jeopardizing peoples health through the transmission of electromagnetic frequencies. So while Powercast will eventually target charging smartphones over-the-air, their technology is currently limited to lower power devices like Smartphones peripherals.
While we may be 10 years or so from seeing Far-Field Wireless charging reach its full potential, the progress being made by companies like Powercast are exciting and inching us closer to a wireless world.
The future of wireless charging is bright and extends far beyond Qi Charging Pads for Smartphones. It can unlock the true potential of our favorite devices by eliminating the need for a constant recharge.
You’ll start to see all your favorite public spaces adding support for wireless charging in the near future. Soon the idea of going into a restaurant and “getting a charge” will be as common as “connecting to the WiFi.”