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Wireless charging; why the hesitation?

Posted by admin on 17th May 2013

cables.articleIn his report on the new Nokia 925 handset earlier this week, the BBC’s Rory Cellan-Jones highlighted that wireless charging has been removed from the new Nokia 925 – though this feature will be available via an add-on cover. The logic was that this was to make the phone slimmer. If wireless charging was deemed to be a must-have feature in modern smartphones, then I would argue that dropping support in exchange for just a couple of millimetres might have been a bigger issue.

Also known as inductive charging, the advantages of wireless charging simply in terms of convenience are obvious; no fiddling around with plugging power cables into the handset. Industry leading mobile tech giant Qualcomm is putting its weight behind the initiative and is particularly keen to address one of the barriers to its wider adoption: wireless charging is still only possible when the device is placed on a mains powered charging pad.

Such innovation could go some way to encouraging more mobile device makers to adopt the technology. But exactly which wireless charging technology should they adopt?

Therein lies the biggest challenge for wireless charging technology and, for that matter, any technology destined to be embedded into mobile devices. In specifying a new technology for a mobile device, which might be on the market for a few years and produced in millions of units, a handset maker wants to be confident that they and end-users will have a device that is compatible with other peripherals and devices that use the same technology. Nobody wants to have different charging pads for each device.

A mobile device manufacturer may embed the first generation of a technology at a higher cost to give its products a competitive leading edge, but its continued use in future products will depend on a few factors: lowering the cost, reducing its footprint when embedded, guaranteed availability of the necessary components from multiple sources, and constantly improving performance and reliability.

All of these factors are ultimately the result of investing in a technology’s development and a result of the volume production that comes from a technology being widely adopted across an industry – and that means standardisation. At the moment, there is no de-facto standard for wireless charging.

Enter the Alliance for Power, which has the potential to bring this long overdue technology to real fruition. It may need to attract a higher volume of members, but those members already on board are significant.

So that’s sorted then. I’ll wait.

admin

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  • David, I think that rather than using the current generation of wireless charging which require close proximity akin to NFC, we need to be looking at longer range technologies more akin to Wi-Fi so that devices automatically power up within range of a power point. Ubeam and WiTricity are working on this type of technology.

    While the current standards of wireless charging are cool, you still need to consciously set the device down on the charger or pad. This effectively makes it a cool gadget without a real impact IMHO.