Wireless Charging is the Next Big Thing for Mobile Phones
Yes, it’s time to cut the cord soon, because mobile phone charging may be done over-the-air in two years time. This was the proclamation made by Marty Cooper, the guy who built the first cell phone. It may sound like a farfetched idea, but it is actually not something new.
Wireless charging has already been introduced years back where you can place your phone over a charging pad until you get a full battery. Companies like Duracell have already capitalized on the technology with its Powermats while IKEA has incorporated charging mats right within their furniture.
The current concept of wireless charging involves the use of electromagnetic fields as made popular by Nicola Tesla. Actually, Tesla had known this long before we did. He already knew that voltage could be transferred wirelessly to a nearby object. During his time though, it was seen as impractical and difficult to apply in everyday technology. Not until coils were made thinner, considering Tesla’s discovery was only revisited recently.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) leveraged on the idea of wireless charging through MagMIMO. Developed in 2014 by professor Dina Katabi, users can charge their iPhones up to a foot away from the device through EM transmissions. Unlike powermats, MagMIMO allows you to charge your phone without any form of physical contact to the transmitting and receiving devices.
But another way of charging wirelessly is on the rise – through radio waves. The same technology being used to communicate through mobile phones will be the same technology that can be used for charging. This is what the company Energous is working on and Cooper sits as one of the board members. They’ve been widely recognized by major tech industries and awards from the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in 2015.
What makes Energous’ technology so compelling is that wireless charging is done through radio waves. Unlike laser beams or induction-based charging, radio waves allow charging from a distance, much like EM waves. Energous uses a USB dongle called a WattUp to transmit these radio waves (the transmitter) and then communicates with a receiver which can power your device. The wireless charging process is facilitated through a software that can manage the amount of power being sent to the receiver.
With a technology like Energous’ WattUp, it aims to deliver three major benefits to consumers.
1. Charging works like Wi-Fi
According to their website, charging becomes truly wireless as you can power up your device or devices as far as 15 feet (30 feet total area) from where the WattUp is. The concept and technology is the same as Wi-Fi as it also uses radio waves to transmit data up to a certain distance. Aside from that, the devices need not be in close contact with the transmitter. Another great thing about this is that it can deliver power to up to 12 devices all at the same time.
2. Works for devices with less than 10 Watts
Though the possibility of wirelessly charging your television or home appliances still seems impossible for now, WattUp is capable of charging devices with less than 10 Watts. Simple and portable gadgets like a smartwatch, hearing aids, remotes, tablets and mobile phones, can benefit greatly from this as they would often require repetitive charging throughout the day. With this possible, WattUp can replace bulky charging units and power banks and rid users of wires and sockets.
3. It comes with a software
Charging also becomes more manageable and flexible with the use of the WattUp software. The Energous website shares that the software will allow users to prioritize which gadgets to charge and which should go first. Because charging can be scheduled and controlled, you can leave your gadget and not worry about overcharging.
With a gadget like WattUp, the future of the Internet of Things (IoT) is now coming closer to reality. The time will come when tech users no longer need to look for a socket to charge their gadgets and they have the power to digitally and remotely control the consumption of electricity.
Energous is still in the works in improving their technology. The current WattUp model is capable of charging very small devices like hearing aids embedded with Energous compatible microchips.
Though the progress is still in its baby steps, Energous promises to deliver more exciting upgrades to their technology in two years. And we hope it’ll be worth the wait in a world tangled up in wires.