Is Wireless Battery Charging the Next Big Thing in Portable Electronic Devices?

Imagine not having to physically plug your cell phone in to charge anymore.  Just by placing your cell phone or tablet on a desk, and if by magic, the battery is automatically replenishing on its own.  This is great for the on-the-go family members, who often forget to plug in their devices and find them dead when most needed.  But who is working on this technology, and when will we have this available?


The WPC or The Wireless Power Consortium (WPC) is the foremost group of companies and manufacturers working together for future solutions of our beloved gadgets.  As referenced by a report from Smart Planet:

“Established in late 2008, WPC has nearly 150 member companies including major mobile phone manufacturers and semiconductor companies. The consortium introduced the Qi inductive power standard in late 2010, and it is working to drive adoption – along with a healthy market for wireless power. The more companies that adopt Qi and produce interoperable products, the more opportunity there will be to develop the technology further, and extend it to new applications.

How far do we have to go?

Since Qi was introduced, more than 30 companies have shipped mobile phones using its embedded wireless charging capabilities. Those phones are designed to power up on compatible charging mats and cradles, alarm clocks and music players, and the inside surfaces of some new car models.”

This all sounds intriguing, but what exactly is Qi you might be asking?  As described on Wikipedia:

“Qi (pronounced “chee”) is an interface standard developed by the Wireless Power Consortium for inductive electrical power transfer over distances of up to 40 millimetres (1.6 inches). The Qi system comprises a power transmission pad and a compatible receiver in a portable device. To use the system, the mobile device is placed on top of the power transmission pad, which charges it via electromagnetic induction.”

Right now the standard supports 5 watts or less.  However, later this year we should see the standard increase to 15 watts, enough to charge larger devices such as tablet computers.  Laptops which require substantially more power to recharge won’t be able to benefit from this technology just yet, but it is only a matter of time.

The WPC is looking to expand on this technology going forward to new markets as well.  Imagine not needing power cords for counter top appliances.  Just pulling out your blender and placing it on a power-mat or engineered counter top – and it works.  The power supply inside a device could be potentially eliminated, reducing the overall production costs of manufacturing.

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