Most consumers are now aware that wireless charging exists, but what they do not know is that every wireless charging technology has different capabilities and acts very differently. Sure, they will all charge your device in the end, but exactly how they charge your device varies by technology, and different wireless charging technologies work better for different types of devices.
Inductive/resonance charging tends to be better for larger devices, such as smartphones or electric toothbrushes, because it uses an electromagnetic field to transfer the energy between the device and the charging station – usually a pad or mat. The magnetic field is generated by the transmitter coil and then converted into an electrical current by the receiver to charge your electronics. Inductive charging tends to work well for large, flat electronic devices because they can fit the induction coils required to create a charge.
Depending on the type of technology integrated within the device, an inductive wireless charging pad can be purchased on Amazon, or encountered in places like Starbucks and even available inside some Ikea furniture! Induction can be a good solution for many larger devices where precise placement is less of a hassle, such as electric vehicles, tablets and similar devices.
While inductive/resonance wireless charging works better for larger, flatter devices; RF wireless charging is best for wearables and other small devices because they are not restricted to the size and shape of the coils in the same way as inductive charging. Radio frequency wireless charging technology utilizes radio frequencies also transmitted through a wireless charger and picked up by a receiver within the device (not a coil) that is then converted into DC voltage. This way, the transmitter and receiver are not restricted by measurements for effective wireless power transfer and do not necessitate alignment of the transmitter and receiver for effective charging.
Inductive charging is the best wireless charging technology for flat-shaped devices: Inductive charging works well for large, flat electronic devices because they can fit the induction coils required to create a charge. Depending on the type of technology integrated within the device, an inductive wireless charging pad can be purchased on Amazon, or encountered in places like Starbucks and even available inside some Ikea furniture! Induction can also be a great solution for many larger devices where precise placement is less of a hassle, such as electric vehicles, tablets and similar devices.
Availability: There are several types of wireless charging pads available on the market, and can be found anywhere from Starbucks to Ikea furniture (provided that your smartphone has a compatible wireless charging receiver).
Coil is limited in size & shape: This coil has physical limitations in size and shape in order for effective wireless charging to take place. Meaning, it can only be integrated into large, flat devices that have the empty real-estate to integrate a coil, such as a smartphone.
(Slow) Performance: One of the reasons that wireless charging has not been fully integrated is that it can still be slower and less efficient than a traditional charger. In addition, the heat generated in certain types of wireless charging technologies is generally higher in comparison with the conventional way of charging.
Precise Placement: Inductive charging requires the exact alignment of two coils (both the charging and receiving coil), in order to charge the device and sustain the charging process. This means that in order for there to be effective wireless power transfer, the user must place the device precisely in a certain point, otherwise power may be wasted and the device may be heated.
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Multiple Device Wirelessly Charging: Everyone in today’s electronic world has multiple devices that need to be charged daily. So how can we charge all of our devices simultaneously, with minimum clutter? This is where wireless charging stations come in handy. Because RF wireless charging does not require precise placement, a multiple devices charging station can help keep all of your gadgets in one place and hiding the unaesthetic clutter of cords. So you can reduce the amount of cables and discard international power adapters. In today’s ‘connected world,’ multiple device wireless charging is becoming more of a necessity than anything. With so many smartphone, wearables, and other tech gadgets that require recharging devices, wireless charging is inevitable.
Integration: One of the best advantages of certain wireless charging technologies is the ability to integrate into any device size or shape. This can come in handy for factory workers, IoT healthcare, or anyone else who will be using smart devices for to streamline their work. With a tiny wireless charging receiver module just like Humavox’s Thunderlink wireless charging can be implemented into the smallest of electronic devices, such as hearing aids, smartwatches, and more, in order to make wireless charging convenient for all.
Drop & Charge: Unlike induction, RF wireless charging provides users a drop & charge user experience. Meaning, that no matter how they place their device within a certain area, it will effectively charge. Allowing electronic devices to recharge exactly where you place them, regardless of how you placed them.
Mobility: Though the signal transmitted between your smartphone and the charging station is wireless, it is still necessary to plug the charging station to the wall. Therefore, devices currently available on the market are not portable, and therefore do not allow you to charge ‘on-the-go.’ Even far-field wireless charging RF technologies, while claiming to be able to charge from long distances, are still limited to a certain extent in size and efficiency. Humavox charging stations also require a plug, but come with a portable battery that can be charged on-the-go until there is enough energy to sustain its power.
Lack of Standardization in the Market: Competing technologies and lack of standardization in the wireless charging market means that devices will not work with just any type of charging station – each requires their own. At the end of the day, you aren’t interested in knowing what technology is charging your device, you just want it to work.
Wireless charging may not yet be mainstream, but we’ve come a long way. For example, two major alliances currently exist – Qi Wireless Charging Standard and AirFuel Alliance (formed with the merging between PMA and A4WP). These two groups, are attempting to standardize the wireless charging space in order to make wireless charging accessible for all. Understanding the discrepancies between the different technologies, AirFuel Alliance (with a membership of close to 200 companies) has created the Uncoupled Power Working Group (UPG) for all technologies which are not induction. Their ultimate goal is to facilitate collaboration between the different wireless charging technologies, so that end-users won’t even know, which technology they’re using to wirelessly charge.
One RF wireless charging technology company aimed at such devices is Humavox, currently the Vice Chair of the Uncoupled Power Working Group (UPG) under the AirFuel Alliance. Humavox’s top wireless charging technology, ETERNA®, is a flexible hardware platform based on near-field radio frequency (RF) technology with the ultimate goal of making charging simple, seamless and intuitive for users. Unlike induction, ETERNA does not require precise placement or alignment of the receiver and transmitter is not required for efficient wireless power transfer. The technology and its small wireless charging receiver enables integration of wireless charging into the tiniest of devices, making it most suitable for small electronics, such as wearables and IoT devices. It is implemented with a charging station that can be in the form of any container such as a cupholder, drawer, box and more. For example, by simply tossing your Humavox-enabled fitness band into a wireless charging station, charging begins.
There are several other types of wireless charging technologies being tested on the market, though they are not yet up to par with the industry standards. For example, infrared wireless charging technology uses an infrared transmitter (that would ideally be integrated into a light fixture), to beam light energy into a receiver while converting it to electric energy. The devices will, ideally, charge as long as they’re in line of sight from the transmitter. Another example is, ultrasound wireless charging technology, which relies on ultrasonic transduction to take power from the nearest electricity and convert it into ultrasonic waves. The waves are then beamed into the device carrying the receiver.
Wireless charging hasn’t exactly become standard, but it is constantly improving. At Humavox, we have created a new and exciting way for RF wireless charging that lets users simply drop their wearable into a charging station, blending wireless power into all your different life environments. Soon we will charge without even noticing!