03 Aug Goodbye wires, hello wireless charging
If you are anything like me, you will constantly be scrambling around to find a phone charger. Whether in the office, at home, in the car or at a friend’s house, the issue remains the same – you never have enough phone battery.
If you have ever been to a week-long trade show such as NAB or IBC, you will know this problem all too well! You are in the middle of sending out or following up on a major news announcement and rushing to meet deadlines, and your phone or laptop dies. But, there is hope. Thanks to the power of research and technology, this issue could become a problem of the past thanks to wireless charging technology.
While the technology seems new to the consumer market, it has existed for more than 100 years and is used most commonly in toothbrushes. Today, there are around half a dozen wireless charging technologies available, all of which are aimed at eradicating the need for wires in anything from phones, laptops and tablets, to kitchen appliances and cars.
When it comes to wireless charging technology, there are three main methods:
- Inductive charging is most commonly used for medium sized devices such as smartphones and tablets. The technology requires an adapter that contains contact points attached to the back of a device. When you need to charge your smartphone or tablet you simply place it on a wireless charging pad and away you go. These are the most widely used chargers around today and can be purchased very cheaply online and seen in places like Starbucks and McDonald’s.
- Resonance charging involves a copper coil which is attached to the device that requires charging with another copper coil attached to a power source. It is used for devices that require a significant amount of power such as computers, hoovers and even electric cars.
- Radio charging comprises of a transmitter that is connected to a socket which generates radio waves and it is used to charge devices that run on small batteries and use a low amount of power such as watches, hearing aids, keyboards and smartphones.
One company at the forefront of wireless charging technology is a start-up based in Oxford called Metaboards. The company was founded in 2016 by world leading professors and authors from Oxford University focusing on Metamaterials. In layman’s terms, metamaterials are the science of creating materials in certain shapes, sizes or orientations to give them unique properties that would not be found in nature. They are most commonly referred to in the media as the materials that have the ability to create an invisibility cloak.
In this case, Metaboards’ technology makes it possible to charge any non-metal electronic device. The technology has the potential to be used almost anywhere and could eliminate the need for plugs and chargers forever! Imagine if a kitchen worktop had wireless charging technology embedded in it. There would be no need for wires and plugs or sockets for kettles, toasters, coffee machines or slow cookers. You would simply place the device on the worktop, and it would be powered.
Wireless charging technology has already made its way into the consumer tech, healthcare, automotive and manufacturing industries and offers increased flexibility and mobility for users. The technology has come a long way over the years and it will be interesting to see just how the technology progresses over the next decade.