Electromagnetic Induction. That’s geek speak for wireless charging or transferring power from a power source to a nearby device without using wires. Think of it as Bluetooth for electricity.
The technology has been around for many years, though you may have never heard of it. Traditional battery companies, consumer electronics (CE) manufacturers and start-ups, alike, have developed wireless power solutions for everything from electric vehicles and notebook computers to desk lamps, smartphones and more. It’s the future of charging. With products from several companies now on store shelves, this technology is really starting to take off.
The idea is simple. You have a charging surface – a pad or flexible mat – and a thin sleeve, attachment or battery made specifically for your smartphone or other mobile device. Plug the charging surface into a power outlet, place your phone or mobile device on the charging surface and watch it charge. It is as simple as setting your phone down. Some of the charging pads have room to accommodate two or more devices at once. As this technology matures you can expect to see it built into all sorts of portable devices, negating the need for any special attachments. You’ll also start to see the charging pads built into products like furniture, countertops and automobile interiors.
A key question this new industry faces is how to deliver universal wireless power compatibility to the consumer.
One early effort is that of the Wireless Power Consortium who recently announced completion of a technical specification and branding program under the Qi (pronounced “chee”) label. CEA is also working to define a universal standard for wireless power products so conforming to the standard will insure that all devices are compatible with all other devices, regardless of the manufacturer.
As is often the case at the outset of new technology markets, there are a number of technologies in the race, and the ultimate winner is in no way yet decided. Products such as the PowerMat, Energizer® Inductive Charger and Duracell myGrid today represent different bets on wireless power and are available in stores and online now. These products support several popular smartphones, iPod Touch devices, Wii game controllers and, with accessory plugs, many other portable devices.
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