Rechargeable batteries were supposed to keep trash out of landfills. Instead they replaced old garbage with new. Consumers throw away billions of battery chargers every year; cellphone chargers alone account for almost 100,000 tons of trash annually. And as discarded chargers sit in landfills, they bleed toxins like mercury and lead. That cycle is about to end. Wireless charging will soon be compatible with many of today's mobile devices, providing a universal, more eco-friendly way to power up.
Nikola Tesla first experimented with wireless induction nearly a century ago. A typical system consists of a charging base and a receiver. When connected to a power source, a current flows through a metal coil in the base, which causes the coil to pulse and generate an electromagnetic field. When a user puts a device on the base, the field induces a current in a receiver coil, which in turn charges the gadget's battery.
Wireless charging is commonplace in low-power gadgets like electric tooth-brushes, but developers have recently adapted it to meet the power demands of mobile devices such as phones, tablets and e-readers. In 2009 Duracell-Powermat implemented thinner transmitter and receiver coils, which fit better into gadgets and pulse faster so they transmit energy more effectively. Today's wireless chargers transfer 86 percent of the power that wired ones do, so there isn't a significant increase in charge time.
Right now, consumers can retrofit devices to charge wirelessly. Duracell-Powermat and Energizer sell aftermarket cellphone cases and charging pads embedded with induction coils and are working with manufacturers to integrate their technology into devices. Energizer anticipates that the first phones with built-in induction coils will ship this year.
Charging stations are also becoming easier to find. Duracell-Powermat has placed charging stations on tabletops in kiosks throughout Madison Square Garden in New York, and Energizer has similar setups in the Windsor International Airport in Ontario. Eventually both companies will build charging coils into furniture—even car dashboards and consoles.
Mass adoption of wireless charging may also be quick. The Wireless Power Consortium has released the Qi standard, which will ensure that all devices will charge on all inductive surfaces. Qi induction coils can be tuned to work in gadgets with different batteries and voltage requirements, so a smartphone, tablet and laptop could theoretically charge on the same base station. Additionally, induction is getting attention from companies that have been slow to adopt the wired microUSB standard. Apple, most notably, has filed patent applications that involve wireless power solutions.
In the future, induction will be able to power more than just gadgets. Developers are working to extend charging range. When that happens, coils embedded in walls will provide power for large freestanding items, such as HDTVs and lamps—and eliminate messes of cords snaked over floors, tangled in drawers and piled up in landfills.
Tesla - pure brilliance.
God bless you Tesla for not taking notes...
seriously he powered stuff from more than a hundred feat away and could light up a lightbulb anywhere in his new york shop, how is it that it is taking us literally 100+ years to figure out how he did it?
if you had to ask me, tesla was obsessed with the standing wave, and if you research it, it is a pretty nifty thing. the standing waves wouldn't have to be perfect, just enough to fill the area around him with enough free standing electromagnetic energy to power a lightbulb for instance.
to mars or bust!
It hasnt taken us anywhere near 100 years to figure out how he did it. Kids have been doing science fair projects of wirelessly powering a lightbulb for ages.
What has taken this long is the same thing that stopped tesla: its massively inefficient.
Think about it: wireless charging pads like they mention in the article have a gap between the receiver and the transmitter of less than a quarter of an inch....and yet they already lose 14% of their power. Increase the distance, and efficiency drops off more. Substantially so.
Anyways, thats still where I have my issue with this technology: its a new place for a large energy loss. 14% is quite a bit to lose, especially when it multiplies with other losses because its a new loss, rather than simply losing more at the same place.
Until these stations pass about 95% I'm not particularly interested.
Also: Does anyone here really think companies will make all of the charging docks/receivers compatible? ESPECIALLY Apple whose entire business model is making everything possible non-compatible/replaceable/etc.
We wouldnt have a problem with regular chargers if everyone used the same standards. But they dont. Heck...even individual are terrible about it. LG Voyager uses the same connector as the LG VX8600...but if you use the 8600s cable with the voyager, youll fry it.
Theres even a standard set for phones: micro usb. Yet many just dont do it. They want to be able to sell you that new car charger for $40 because you just upgraded your phone. They cant do that if the same one works.
This is another requirement for me to purchase something now. My current phone, the HTC Incredible does indeed use the standard micro-usb to usb.
Zechio nailed it. Additionally this tech isn't remotely new, even as described. Palm Pre (2009) has an inductive charger base without needing some special case for the phone. It's cool tech, but just like solar, if it doesn't get more efficient people aren't going to buy into it.
I really appreciate all the neat and cool things Telsa invented, but has anyone read the danger articles of wireless phones next to our heads, or the dangerous of microwave energy, or dangers of working in front of magnetic fields. My point being, what happens when humans work around or walking infront of this power that is being wirelessly sent? I am just curious of the harmful effects.
I was about to say, thank God that this technology is so old that it can't be patented. But, then I noticed the comment about Apple trying to piecemeal the patent market over wireless solutions. Such a shame that Apple can profit on other people's hard work, then condemn others for doing the same.
I also completely agree with zechio. Companies are not interested in standards. If they were, there would not be a problem with wired chargers.
Furthermore, how many times have you had to use your device while it is charging? That's harder to do if you can't move around because you have to keep the device within an inch of a charging pad.
Wireless charging is yet another idea that looks good on paper but is otherwise not very practical.
I can see this becoming practical in a couple years with most handheld devices. Mainly if they can all charge in the same table. And as for needing to use your device while it is charging, I think something like this would come with a contact monitoring solution to only charge in the section of the table that the device is occupying. So you could pick up your device use it for a bit and then place it back on the table. I am no expert in anything like this but I can picture the inside of the table looking a lot like the inner coils in a mattress so that only the ones closest to the object get charged.
Well, I'm all for saving the earth, but this ain't it.
1.Tela was a genius -- no doubt. But the Tesla coil is anything but an efficient means to transfer power. That's why it remains a scientific curiosity.
2. What exactly is the eco benefit of wireless chargers? They WILL BREAK like everything else does, and then they will be tossed into landfills -- or, more properly, be recycled as electronic devices should be.
3. There have been efforts to make cell phone charging connections compatible -- that would go a long way. And even if they're not, it's trivial to make chargers with various adapters.
4. zechio has a good point about efficiency. It's not about charging time. Wireless chargers WASTE 14% of their input power to perform their miracle.
5. As far as landfills -- think of all of the cellphones etc. that were tossed because they got wet -- or were just
too 'last week'. A lot are recycled -- and a lot aren't.
Sorry for the rant, but the science in this article is horrendous.
Some years ago there was an effort in the EU to make all the phones compatible with one charger plug. For some reason it did not work. And there is no good reason to believe that this will work. As Zechio says "just another power wasting gimmick"
When I got my last phone I automatically got a new charger, I did not need one. Will the charger now be an optional extra?
ford2go.. many many thanks, you all said what I had in my mind... this is a horrendously misinformative article and people just jump at the conclusion without even thinking about what the wireless charging would imply... all those devices will still have batteries people...
"has anyone read the danger articles of wireless phones next to our heads, or the dangerous of microwave energy, or dangers of working in front of magnetic fields"
Oh please... Can you PLEASE shows us a single peer reviewed scientific study which proved any of this is true? You are repeating an ignorant myth.
"Consumers throw away billions of battery chargers every year; cellphone chargers alone account for almost 100,000 tons of trash annually. "
What a crock!
There probably haven't been a billion battery chargers thrown away TOTAL in the history of chargers, much less 100,000 TONS a year.
Say a charger weighs eight ounces. 100,000 TONS times 2000 lbs is 400,000,000 per year. I don't believe that many are even sold much less thrown away.