Wireless power is magical. Just put your wearable or any smart device down and when you need it, pick it up and it’s fully charged.
Wireless power in simplest terms, is the transfer of energy between two objects, without wires or cables. This is typically done through a transmitter (or charging station), that wirelessly transmits energy into a receiver integrated inside the electronic device and thus powers the device.
While the concept of wireless power has existed for many years now, we have only recently become more aware of it and seen its more widespread applications. In order to understand the origins and the development of wireless power, let’s start from the very beginning:
It has taken over a century for the wireless power technology to find its way into the mainstream, but we are finally starting to understand the way in which wireless power works. We have even developed NEW forms and methods (i.e., wireless power transfer using radio frequencies instead of induction). Slowly, we are getting closer to a world where we won’t have to plug anything in, and your electronic or wearable devices can constantly be charged anywhere they are placed.
Wireless power is the transmission of energy from a power source to a consuming device without wires or cables. This means that all wireless charging technologies are comprised of both a transmitter (or charging station) that transmits that energy and a receiver (integrated inside a device) that receives the energy to charges the battery of the device.
While there are several types of wireless power technologies being tested for market use, the two main dominant technologies are inductive and radio frequency (sometimes referred to as either near-field or far-field RF wireless charging).
Induction, or inductive coupling uses a magnetic field to create coupling between a set of coils. An electric toothbrush is a great example of this! The electrical currents flow through the primary coil, located in the charging station, to the secondary coil (inside the toothbrush. When the two are coupled together (as shown in the photo below), the current will recharge the battery. This works well for large and flat-surfaced devices.
Radio frequency wireless charging technology, on the other hand, utilizes radio frequencies transmitted through a wireless charger and picked up by a receiver within the device (not a coil) that is then converted into DC voltage. RF harvesting receivers, convert energy into DC power.
With near-field RF wireless charging, such as Humavox’s ETERNA platform, 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, so this could provide a great solution for wearables and small curved devices (where induction can’t be applied). The device itself does not necessarily need to be placed directly on the charging station, and the charging station itself does not have to be a flat surface.
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In addition to the obvious benefits of eliminating the need for cords, wireless power technology has the added value of being much more durable. This type of charging has significantly less wear and tear, which is a lot more eco-friendly, and there is also a lot less electronic waste. Basically, what we’re saying is that the wireless charging ‘pros and cons’ list is vastly heavier one side.
Remember all of those times you walked into a coffee shop, or an airport only to rush to the nearest outlet? Think about the number of electronic devices you own… now think about the number of wires, plugs, dongles and chargers that you need to plug in all of these devices. Multiply that by the number of people in your family….and that’s a LOT of time spent fiddling with cords and outlets!
Now consider the following:
The number of devices per family is only expected to grow as smart devices and wearables become more mainstream. Now, imagine a world where you no longer need to carry around all of these different types of chargers. You can simply drop all of your devices in a bowl, a drawer, or set it on the table and…voila! Its charging, without even thinking about it.
Wireless charging can be of even greater significance for factory workers, IoT healthcare, or anyone else who will be using smart devices for to streamline their work. We simply cannot be expected to have to plug in and charge our devices each time. With wireless charging, the charging station can be integrated into nearly any 3D object, meaning that one can simply drop their devices into a drawer, and that’s it! The battery is no longer an issue.
While we’ve come a long way, we still have a bit to go before wireless charging can become mainstream. One of the reasons is that the user experience isn’t as seamless as it should be. For example, many wireless charging devices still require exact placement, and the charging process is still slower than wired devices. A great user experience is essential for adoption, so people, ideally, should be able to charge their devices quickly, regardless of how they are placed.
Another reason wireless power is not yet mainstream is the lack of standardization in the wireless charging market. Current competing technologies mean that devices will not work with just any type of charging station – each requires their own. At the end of the day, are you interested to know which technology is enabling your device to charge, or are you more interested that it works? This issue, however, is being addressed with standardization led by the AirFuel alliance- enabling interoperability between the different technologies.
Humavox’s wireless power technology, ETERNA, is a flexible hardware platform set on making charging blend into life and be able to integrate into the tiniest of devices through near-field radio frequency (RF) charging. We have created a new way for widespread wireless charging that lets users simply drop their wearable into a charging station, blending wireless power into all your different life environments. So you can charge without even noticing! And luckily, this can be done in the same amount of time as charging with a regular charger.