One of the hottest new technologies for Mobile Consumer Electronics is battery recharging without plugging in the power cord – thanks to wireless technology.
The fundamental wireless power technology itself was invented in the last century and common devices such as electric toothbrushes have been using it since the 1990’s.
The next frontier is to recharge a broad range of Consumer Electronics devices such as smartphones and tablets, ultrabooks, notebooks, digital cameras, and many others that would use a conventional AA rechargeable battery. Certainly, consumer convenience is the ability of wirelessly recharging a device by placing it on a power charging mat and skipping the step of plugging in the power cable. This is a big advantage since connectors and cables become unreliable and break down after many uses (think doing this one or more times per day).
The Wireless Power Consortium (WPC) was formed 3 years ago and created a specification. Suppliers lined up to develop and supply solutions. Market analysts have been setting high expectations for consumer adoption.
So why has adoption been slow to date? Have you seen the products being supplied by the WPC vendors and do you understand what they are capable or NOT capable of?
What is not spoken of is that with WPC products you have to be careful in aligning and orienting your smartphone or other device precisely on the charging pad. Otherwise it will not charge! This is an extra step and not a true convenience. Some people refer to this as a tightly coupled solution.
Also, many consumers want to simultaneously charge multiple devices. Again the WPC based charging pads can do so but the cost increases significantly with each device since the electronics and coils need to be replicated.
I have heard that heat generated by the WPC products may be an issue for devices. If anyone has details, please share them so that we can better understand the issue.
In my view, the above limitations are inherent in the WPC specification. This falls short of the benefits that consumers expect and thus may not create a mass market.
To solve all these important problems with practical solutions, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) formed a working group to drive a worldwide standard. Have you seen what they are up to and who is leading this charge?