Wireless charging has come a long way over the past few years, but it has many miles to go. As Peter Clarke pointed out in a recent EE Times article, proponents believe 2013 could be a big year for the technology. Who can deny the appeal of a world free from the ubiquitous power cords that weigh us down today, frequently misplaced when needed and rarely interchangable?
But amid a tangle (no pun intended) of proprietary technologies and looming battles over standards, there are still more questions than answers in the world of wireless charging. Big name technology firms are picking their horses, positioning themselves for the fight ahead.
Some believe that wireless power will one day operate very much like Wi-Fi does today—as you walk into a room, your mobile device will lock into a source of wireless power and steadily recharge as you go about your business. But, in addition to giving a lot of people the heebie jeebies, that notion just isn't very realistic, according to Greg Cross, Executive Chairman of Power by Proxi, a spinout from New Zealand's University of Auckland that markets wireless charging technology.
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"We see wireless power as a proximity-based system, not a broadcast system," Cross said. "When you are trying to broadcast wireless power over long distances, it's going to be very inefficient and you are going to have to be very careful if you are going to meet the safety standards."
Power by Proxy announced Wednesday (Oct. 31) that it secured exclusive rights to a wireless power patent portfolio from the University of Auckland for wireless power technology is for portable consumer electronics (CE) devices, semiconductors and batteries. The company, which has worked on more than 50 projects for 30 different customers, has found most of its success in applications for wireless components, which Cross said may end up being every bit as large or larger than the market for wireless charging in consumer electronics.
Funny enough after posting the above commnet I read that Stabucks is implementing a pilot program in Boston of 17 locations offering wireless mats...so I am wrong and behind ;-)...but what devices have that wireless charging capability implemented?
Perhaps...but using your example of Starbucks with a charging mat: is this going to be one mat per cafe? that might create lineup to use it...many mats?...what if the mat doesn't work? (outlets usually do work)...what if people start spilling coffee over it? who owns the mat, does the cleaning? what happens if it gets stolen? there are many operation issues...as far as health is concerned what if kids start sticking their fingers between the mat and the device to be charged? who is liable if something happens? Starbucks? again, many, many safety and regulatory issues to be resolved...Kris
@kris- thanks for your comments/questions. I think the idea is--still admittedly a long way off--you don't need to carry the charging pad, because just about anywhere you would go where you might expect to plug in, there will be a charging pad(s) there for you to set your device on to recharge. If you go to Starbucks, you can slap your phone down on the pad (same if you go to your buddy's house, etc.) In your house, you will have several to choose from. This of course requires some standardization effort which is still looming.
As for health risks, I can't speak to that. I believe that is an issue if you are going to be broadcasting over distance. But if the device is in close proximity, I don't think this is a problem.
thank you Dylan, but this is not as simple...you don't need to carry the charger but you need to carry the charging mat, is that really that different?...and the charging process is less efficient than by wires so you are losing the energy, this is not green, not so cool...what about health risks? you are broadcasting lots of RF power, much more than for RF communication, is that a problem? Kris
No need to carry the charger, no need to look for the charger, no need to untangle the charger, no need to get mixed up on which charger to use. Plus, with one pad supporting all of your devices, you don't need to tie up 10 electrical outlets. It's clear to me this is the way forward. In addition to the convenience, think about the reduction in expense and materials use associated with making far few single-purpose charging cords. Bring it on, I say.
"proponents believe 2013 could be a big year for the technology." - wasn't 2010 supposed to be the big year of wireless power? and 2011? and 2012?
I even remember being in an Intel Developer Forum keynote in 2009 and hearing Rattner talk about how we were on the cusp of wireless technology.
Hell, Tesla thought we were on the cusp of it almost 100 years ago....
Wireless power needs to step it up already...
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