With Apple’s recent release of iPhone 8 and more notably, iPhone X, the hype about wireless charging reignited. The technology is no novelty in the industry as Palm debuted the first wireless charging smartphone, Palm Pre, more than eight years ago. I guess the mysterious “Apple Effect” does exist and whatever Apple does is cooler. We now have a plethora of gadgets orbiting this red hot supernova: wireless charging pads/stands, wireless charging power banks, lamps with wireless charging stand, coffee tables with wireless charging capability. You name it. All seem ready and sound at the service of your smartphones. But don’t limit imagination only to your phones. There is a bigger world beyond that 5-inch screen.
Many of us have made acquittance with electric toothbrushes for the sake of pearly white smile and better oral hygiene. They are one of the more common adopters of wireless charging technology, and probably earlier. It is a simple tool to guarantee your 2-minute brush.
Like the electric toothbrush mentioned above, wirelessly charged razor does not offer much improvement on utility and functionality. Yet it brings a bigger picture of future wirelessly powered home appliances to the table. Personally I would love a razor that I can just grab and use on-the-go in my not so organized bathroom.
In the CES 2017, Dell debuted the world’s first wireless charging laptop Dell Latitude 7285, announcing inductive power transmission a reality for notebook powering. Instead of charging the whole tablet, Dell uses an attachable keyboard to communicate with charging pad and allow the tablet to be charged when placed down with the keyboard on the pad.
Some notable automakers have started advancing their wireless EV charging agendas. For instance, BMW is set to offer a charging pad for the eDrive cars. It is reportedly able to charge up a 530e in 3.5 hours.
On the other hand, third parties are coming up with solutions to realize wireless EV charging. Plugless Power enables inductive charging by installing hardware upgrade on the EV so that the vehicle can communicate with the charging pad to achieve wireless charging, while WiTricity adopts resonant energy transfer based on oscillating magnetic fields to achieve the same function.
Amazon is ready to deploy its drone fleet to aerially deliver packages at scale. Yet, this short-range technology is in dire need for midway fuel stations to ensure long distance travel. So Amazon has been envisioning streetlight-based recharging stations, which allow delivery drones to rest on perches built on urban infrastructures for speedy recharge. Seattle based WiBotic has also introduced an integrated charging pad for more industrial use of drones.
A glimpse into the future
Wireless charging becomes more than a technology at the service of a single device. It is an integral part of urban ecosystem, powering and mobilizing energy to a house unit, a street block and an entire city. Take a look at Nissan’s pioneering concept, and prepare to be amazed by what the future holds.