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How Wireless Charging Works

May 22, 2012
If you’re like me, you find having to plug in your phone to charge it quite annoying. After all, we now live in a wireless world. What could be more cumbersome than having your phone plugged into the wall half the day?

Wireless charging isn’t new, for example Palm (R.I.P) and HP made their Touchstone wireless charging system available for their webOS devices. It just hasn’t quite caught yet, but we’ll get into the reason for that later. The good news is that wireless charging looks like it may soon become more main stream, and one sign of this is that the much-anticipated Samsung Galaxy S3 is expected to have a wireless charging option.

Inductive Charging Explained

So, just how does this newfangled wireless charging work? First of all, the method of wireless charging used for smartphones is called inductive charging. This method of wireless charging harnesses the ability of using an electromagnetic field to transfer energy over a short distance via a transmitter (charger) and receiver (phone). Just set your phone down on the transmitter and your phone starts charging. Sounds pretty awesome, right?

Right now the technology only allows for the energy to be transmitted over a few millimeters. While this means we won’t be gleefully prancing around the house, phone in hand, chanting “my phone is charging, my phone is charging,” at least we’ll no longer have to deal with those pesky wires.

Wireless Charging Standard

If you’re wondering why wireless smartphone charging has yet to catch on, the reason is probably due to no standard being set. As a result all wireless charging devices, such as the aforementioned Touchstone, had to be created with proprietary devices and accessories. Fortunately, the Wireless Power Consortium has stepped in to save the day with Qi (pronounced ‘chee’), a set of industry guidelines for inductive charging. So far Qi has the backing of 84 device manufacturers and carriers. With a standard in place, we should expect to see faster development and improvement in the technology because companies won’t feel the need to re-invent the wheel if they decide to jump into the business.

As you can imagine, the possibilities for wireless charging are endless, and go beyond just the smartphone market. For now though, let’s just be excited that the need of wired phone charging becomes a thing of the past.

I’m obviously looking forward to it, but I’m curious as to what our readers think about wireless charging. Do you wish it was already more common? Would you use it if you had the option?