Wireless charging can be used everywhere, in smartphones and IoT devices, but more importantly in medical devices.
Companies want to make it easy for their products to be mobile. For this to happen, it is important that appliances are rid of wires. First, it started with WiFi. Bluetooth and infrared further transformed the landscape. Companies are now going gung-ho on wireless. Charging of phones is possible using wireless technology. Oral B started this trend with its toothbrushes, but now phones incorporate wireless charging features. Although Nokia Lumia was the first to have this capability in 2012, Samsung and Apple have furthered this technology. The latest entrant is said to be OnePlus—it is believed, OnePlus 8 pro will host wireless charging.
What is wireless charging?
The concept of charging without wires is not new. Nikola Tesla had suggested electromagnetic induction charging in the 1890s, and it is a variation of this technology that is used in wireless charging even today. Where a primary coil interacts with secondary coil generating alternating current, which is then turned into direct current using plates and the device is charged. While it all seems easy, the technology powering this is expensive and hence is only available on select premium models.
How are phones using it?
The coils fitted in the phones get charged using this mechanism. There are two standards in charging the Qi wireless charging standard and PMA or AirFuel wireless charging standard. Although Qi has acquired more notoriety, with the likes of LG, Google, Apple and Samsung adhering to norms, but both companies are now collaborating with standards that can work with the other. Samsung, for instance, has been developing phones that are both Qi and PMA compatible. Here also there are two approaches. While some companies are engaged in building large devices like furniture that is wireless compatible, Apple’s and others focus has been to create smaller pads.
Will it be inter-operable?
At present, most chargers need a primary and secondary coil, but we are moving past that stage. Samsung has released something called PowerShare in its devices, which will allow a phone to charge other Samsung accessories like earpods, watch. Although this is limited to Samsung ecosystem, as the technology evolves, we can hope to see more devices that can power each other. So, if your friend needs a power source all you need to do is keep the phones stacked up.
Where else can it be used?
While mobile and accessories is one application, cars can be charged using this technology. Although the mechanism requires devices to be close to each other even attached in certain cases, as technology evolves this may not be the case. There are mats now that let cars be charged on parking. London installed 13 such devices for its EVs, and others are doing it too. So, one can expect wireless charging to come in a big way for cars, especially if scientists can overcome the slow charging capabilities of charging mats and points. GM, Audi and Volvo support this technology, and this years CES showcased many more cars capable of such innovations. Then there are toothbrushes, wireless since 1990s.
What are other applications?
Wireless charging can be used everywhere, in smartphones and IoT devices, but more importantly in medical devices. This is one industry that can be transformed with use of chargers. Then it is the EVs, which can certainly benefit from the technology. The infrastructure would be easy to setup. Not surprising the first applications of electromagnetic induction was for cars, but internal combustion engines happened to become more popular. We may be going back to the future.
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