An introduction to wireless charging: changing the way we think about power

Smartphones are changing the way we live our lives, both online and off. With each new model, we are used to getting more processor speed, new features and programs, and entire new ways of using them. Despite increased capabilities, battery life simply hasn’t kept up. For most users, phones are sending out sad bleeps by lunchtime, signaling a low battery.

Wireless charging is set to change this. We want to eradicate the problem of the dead battery.

Snack charging on-the-go

Imagine sitting down for a cup of coffee, and placing your phone on the table. The phone lights up, and starts to automatically charge – without connectors or cables. You could simply grab your phone on your way out in the morning, and charge it wherever you needed to – at home, the office, the library, the local coffee shop.

It would be even better if you didn’t ever need a charger. We could simply forget about USB cables, chargers and, when traveling, adapters. We wouldn’t have to worry about recycling old chargers, or labeling each different charger that goes with a different device.

The technology

Although wireless charging might sound like the stuff of science fiction, this is not a far-fetched vision of the future. The technology and theory behind wireless charging have been around for a long time – the idea was initially suggested by Nikola Tesla, who  demonstrated the principle of wireless charging at the turn of the century. The technology is also closer to you than you may think: it is already a reality in such devices as electric toothbrushes and surgically implanted devices, like artificial hearts.

Wireless charging, also known as inductive charging, is based on a few simple principles. The technology requires two coils: a transmitter and a receiver. An alternating current is passed through the transmitter coil, generating a magnetic field. This in turn induces a voltage in the receiver coil; this can be used to power a mobile device or charge a battery.

This is just the beginning

Wireless charging is already available for low-power applications (up to 5 Watts), suitable for mobile phones and other devices. However, medium- and high-power applications are also being developed, and in the future your kitchen appliances may very well be wireless.

Since wireless charging is set to become so ubiquitous with applications ranging from cell phones to home appliances, there is a real need to ensure that charging is standardized. This is why the Wireless Power Consortium developed Qi – the standard for interoperable wireless charging. With Qi, we want to ensure that your device can be charged wirelessly, no matter where you go, and no matter what brand charger you are using.

Find out more about the technology

Read more about the Qi standard

Find out how wireless charging changes the way we work and play

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