Cutting the Power Cord
We can move vast amounts of data wirelessly, e-mail large images and videos from our phones over the air, and surf the Internet from a dizzying array of mobile devices without the benefit of an Ethernet cable. But when the battery dies, you still have to plug in. But that may be changing, thanks to the commercialization of wireless charging technology for devices like mobile phones. Wireless charging technology (which will see an annual growth rate of 86.5% through 2016, according to IMS Research), would not only eliminate the need for a power cord, it could also eradicate disposable batteries for most small electronics, and eventually revolutionize the way we charge the electric vehicles of the future.
This type of inductive charging capability has been around for awhile, but a lack of standards had stymied adoptions. Mobile phone manufacturers are supporting the Qi standard, released in 2010 by the Wireless Power Consortium. Alternatives are emerging, however.
Samsung’s Galaxy S3 smart phone was the first out of the gate this summer with a wireless charging capability. There is also, evidently, a way to modify an iPhone 4S for wireless charging, provided you don’t mind disassembling the phone and voiding your warranty.
Phones aren’t the only electrical gadgets that could benefit from wireless charging. Proponents of the technology tout its potential to clip the cord from home appliances (like TVs), create wireless charging hubs for multiple devices, and ultimately help power electric vehicles without the need to plug into a charging station.
In July, Renault and Qualcomm announced a partnership to cooperate on the London trial of Qualcomm’s Halo Wireless Electric Vehicle Charging (WEVC) technology, and pave the way for its integration into Renault vehicles. Witricity (via Delphi) and Plugless Power are also developing wireless hubs for EVs. And Toyota has submitted a trademark for something called Ebin, a storage container for electronic devices that would provide inductive charging inside a vehicle.
Qualcomm, in fact, is a founding member of the Alliance for Wireless Power industry consortium that hopes to push the technology forward through standards development (which will compete with the previously mentioned Qi standard). Other members include Deutsche Telekom, Gill Industries, Samsung, and Powermat Technologies.
You can see some related videos below, including a Plugless Power vehicle demo: