Having to plug a device in to the wall to charge it is a very first world problem, but lots of companies have taken advantage of this niche issue and brought out wireless charging technology. Whether that be built into a car’s dashboard, a pad you place your phone on to charge or built-in to furniture, it is a technology feature that is developing so rapidly that the majority of new smartphones can now be charged wirelessly.
There have been many variations of wireless charging over the years but the one closest to what we have today was the first application of inductive charging created in 1978. In this case their inductive charging tech was used to charge an electric vehicle. After this there were many different attempts at wireless charging and wireless transmitting of power. But it wasn’t until 2008 when The Wireless Power Consortium was set up that we saw the tech that we have today. In 2010 they created the Qi standard which to this day is used by companies such as Apple, Samsung, Philips and Belkin. The standard’s aim is to deliver wireless charging easily and safely and to ensure devices with the Qi logo are compatible. Other countries have also set up organisations to create standards for inductive charging.
How does it work?
Now we get to the technical bit, but it’s not as confusing as you might think. The real name for wireless charging is Inductive Charging and it works by using an electromagnetic field to transfer energy from the charging station over to the compatible smartphone. When the energy generated by the electromagnetic field reaches the device it runs through a receiver coil. The process of the energy running through the receiver coil creates electricity and that is what charges the device.
Ikea have built wireless charging pads into some of their furniture. Things like desks, coffee tables and sideboards. It’s a really good idea as when you are at work or home you usually put your phone down on your desk or a table, so for it to be charging at the same time wirelessly is an added bonus.
Carmakers are starting to integrate wireless charging into their vehicles in places such as the dashboard now so you can charge your devices while on the move. The following companies already add wireless charging to their cars: Audi, BMW, Chrysler, Ford, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo.
Samsung have taken wireless charging to the next level with their latest Galaxy S10 smartphone. It can charge through a normal wired charger, wireless charger or a new feature called charge share. It allows you to touch your phone against another Galaxy S10 and the one with the most power will share it’s charge with the other device, great for if you are on 1% and need charge urgently.
Like with any new technology there can be drawbacks. The main one being that it is not as fast as conventional wired charging. But expect this to improve as the tech advances over time. Also something to consider before buying a wireless charger is that not all phones have wireless charging capabilities. However you can combat this by buying a wireless charging case which plugs in to the charge port on your device. Another thing to consider is that compared to plugging your phone in to charge, wireless charging can cause wear on your battery. This is caused by the heat generated during wireless charging and after a prolonged period of time your phone may start to lose battery capacity and not hold it’s charge for as long as usual. But this is in extreme cases and if you charge your phone with a mix of wired and wireless charging it should not cause major issues.
Future tech showcases that wireless charging may not even need to touch your phone in the future. A company called Energous have come up with a concept for wireless charging that works over the air like wifi does. So depending on how it is installed like on the streets or public transport you may never need to think about charging your phone again, it will just charge itself.
Like with everything else technology is fast moving so expect to see more advancements in wireless charging over the coming years. It’s certainly something we can’t wait to see evolve into reality!