Qi, the New Standard For Inductive Charging, Could be the Next Big Thing for Battery Chargers

Inductive charging is starting to gain more and more popularity, with new rumors that the iPhone 5 may even feature wireless charging. Read more about “qi,” the new standard for inductive charging that could untether battery chargers forever.

In Eastern philosophy, Qi (pronounced chee) or Chi was the universal energy that moved through all things. Plants, animals, human beings, and the universe all drew upon Qi as a source of power that could take many forms. Now, modern technology has adapted the term Qi for use as another form of universal energy known as qi. qi is the name for a universal standard set for the use of inductive chargers that was established by the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC) as a way for any device that is enabled with qi to use a qi charger as a wireless source of power.

The Early Days of Inductive Charging

Inductive charging is nothing new to the devotee of technological wonders. Certain mobile phones or rechargeable batteries have been using inductive charging for years as a way to transfer wireless power from a charging pad or charging station into a battery. What is different about qi is the difference between the archaic pin plugs on computers and a USB port.

What qi technology does is it removes the boundaries between charger and device that requires charging. Previously, anyone that wanted to recharge their cellular phone or mp3 player without plugging it in would have needed a specialized charger. An iPhone could not be charged on just any wireless pad. A household rechargeable battery – like the Eneloop by Sanyo -would need a specific type of induction charger to be used. There was very little cross compatibility.

The reason for the lack of compatibility was wavelength. Inductive chargers have to move energy without a direct connection. This means they have to produce electromagnetic waves to transfer the energy from the pad to the battery. It was rare for two devices to use the same electromagnetic wavelength, which meant that the iPhone couldn’t “hear” the energy waves being produced by an Eneloop charge pad, nor the other way around. This is because the Eneloop and iPhone were speaking different languages.

How it Works

What makes qi technology different is that it uses that eastern concept of a universal power to mean universal for all devices that are qi enabled. The basic idea behind qi is that since one inductive charger does the same basic thing as another – transfer power – then they should all be able to use the same source with no brand restrictions. iPhones wouldn’t need iPhone specific charge pads. iPods wouldn’t need iPod specific chargers. Eneloop chargers wouldn’t require Eneloop batteries to work. It makes them all universal.

Ultimately, this means that any charging device that is qi enabled can work with any device that has qi installed on it. A single qi charger could be set onto a desk and then every different kind of qi device on the market could be charged from it. No more swapping out USB plugs or wall outlets for every different kind of phone adapter. If the item is qi compatible, it will work with the qi charger. An iPhone can charge alongside a Zune right beside an Eneloop battery charger. There are no wires to swap around or tangle up. There is no wrong kind of interface. There are no adaptors necessary. There is nothing to stand between the device and the charger. Simply touch the qi product to the charger and watch the battery fill up.

The way they accomplish this is making sure that the electromagnetic wavelength produced by a qi charger is received by the qi enabled device. Now that Eneloop charge pad can be “heard” by the wavelength receptors in the iPhone and it knows how to turn that into usable power, rather than being lost into the universe.

Visions of the Future

qi is still in its infancy. Inductive charging is a reasonably effective way to carry extra power or charging ability while on the move, but it often is time consuming to give most mobile devices a usable charge, and even then it often can’t be expected to fully recharge a battery, be it on a smartphone or an Eneloop. qi is the next step forward though, and someday promises a world where whole multimedia components can be run from a single outlet plug used by a charge pad that puts off wavelengths of energy that every piece of electronics, from the smallest rechargeable battery to the most impressive sound system can understand and convert into constant power.

Just as Qi unites all living things in the universe, qi technology hopes to unite all things in the realm of technology. It is like devising a language that can be spoken and understood by all, with no barriers between products and no miscommunication. Like eastern Qi, qi hopes to help become the standard that every electronic device will use. Just as the term Wi-Fi is for every enabled computer or phone and USB is for everything that requires a plug, qi promises to be the universal energy of the technological world.


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