What is wireless charging?
Wireless charging is the process of charging a device wirelessly without the hassle of plugging it into a power socket in the wall, a power bank or another power source. In wireless charging, the electric charge is transferred from the charging device to the device being charged without any wired connection. Both the devices must be in direct contact or within a certain range with each other for wireless charging to work.
Wireless Charging Standards
Two major standards for wireless power are being used in the industry: Qi and The AirFuel Alliance. While both the standards are owned by different companies, the core technology underlying them is essentially the same. Both the standards are based on Resonant inductive coupling.
The basic idea behind wireless charging started back in the 19th century when Nikola Tesla used a magnetic resonant coupling to show how electricity could travel through the air from a transmitter to the receiver via magnetic fields. However, it took almost a century to find a solid application for this technology. Today we see wireless charging in almost all fields from mobile phones and laptops to cars and kitchen appliances.
What are the components in wireless chargers? There are two main components of a wireless charger, a transmitter and a receiver. The transmitter is installed in the charging device, and the receiver is installed in the device that must be charged such as mobile phones or laptops.
How does Wireless Charging work?
Based on inductive charging, wireless charging uses Resonant electronic coupling. The charging device receives Direct Current (DC) from a power source which is then converted to Alternating Current (AC) by the transmitter. Due to the AC current, the transmitting coil within the transmitter becomes energized and generates a magnetic field. When a receiving coil is placed near the transmitter, it induces the AC current within the receiving coil and the above-mentioned process starts in reverse charging the receiving devices.
Wireless Charging Applications in Different Industries
Wireless charging is not only limited to mobiles, it is being used in a variety of different industries such as healthcare, drones, Electric Cars and more.
Dell has launched its Latitude 7825 laptop that has the capacity to be charged wirelessly. This can really spice up the aesthetics of office space by creating an eco-system in which the laptops can be charged as you work on your desk without plugging them in. Similarly, wireless charging pads for laptops are light-weight and easy to carry, making it much easier to travel with them.
One of the major challenges that often limit the operations of both robotics and drones is the charging dependency on external agents. Wireless charging pads for drones is a step towards making drones completely self-sufficient.
Powerpad has been developed by Wibotics to provide wireless charging to drones. This has eliminated the need to plug the drones into direct charging sockets or change their batteries by hands.
Wireless charging is making its way into the medical industry to enhance the quality of medical tools and equipment and eliminate power issues in defibrillators.
Some surgical tools are powered by batteries, and it is quite possible that they run out of battery during an operation. In such an instance, the battery must be replaced or recharged and the surgical instrument must be sterilized before it can be used in the surgery again. This is a complex and time-consuming process. Use of wireless charges in medicine will help eliminate such scenarios because if the power runs out in a surgical instrument, it can be recharged by placing it on a power tray. There will be no need to replace the battery, and hence the whole process can be streamlined.
R&D is already underway in the applications of wireless charging in the medical industry. Greatbatch, a medical component manufacturer, has already started working in this field by forming a partnership with the wireless charging company WiTricity to start developing wireless charging systems for medical devices.
The use of wireless charging technology in medical equipment will ease sterilization, increase reliability, and reduce maintenance of many critical tools required for surgery.
Today only 1% of the cars on the road are electric cars; however, that will change by the next decade. We will see more and more electric cars on the road as the technology becomes more common. However, as green and smooth as electric cards are, the one problem that many people face when using them is that electric cars must be plugged in every night to be charged. In the morning, they must be plugged out before they can be driven anywhere.
This problem can be eliminated by using wireless charging pads for electric cars. WiTricity is already working on developing wireless charging technology in a partnership with BMW. BMW 530e scheduled to be launched in the market this year will feature wireless charging.
By using wireless technology, you can park your cars on public chargers or leave them in your garage overnight without worrying about plugging them in or out.
For those interested in knowing more about wireless charging here is a good video;
Advantages of Wireless charging
Apart from the obvious advantage of being “wireless”, wireless charging also has a few other tangible benefits such as:
- Many Wireless charging devices have an automatic built-in mechanism that turns the power off when charging is complete. This prevents overcharging of the phone.
- The charging mechanism can be built on everyday objects such as tabletops, desks and even counters in the kitchen.
Disadvantages of Wireless charging
Wireless charging is no doubt a cool technology, but it comes with a set of limitations:
- It is not as efficient as regular chargers. This is because a lot of energy is lost during the process of generating the magnetic field and transmitting this energy between the transmitting and the receiving coils.
- Wireless chargers are generally slower than regular chargers.
- Wireless chargers can be a lot more expensive as compared to the regular chargers. Moreover, if you don’t have wireless charging technology preinstalled in your mobile device, it can cost you a lot of money to get this technology.