Wireless charging allows you to refresh the batteries on electronic devices without a cable.
That’s not new. Inductive wireless charging has been around for a while. It hasn’t taken off.
PowerbyProxi chief executive Greg Cross is banking that will change with second generation resonant wireless charging.
Wireless charging poised
The technology looks poised to go mainstream. If or when it does, the Auckland-based company could lead the charge.
Cross says he isn’t planning to make consumer devices. Instead PowerbyProxi will license its technology to device makers. The company already has a relationship with Samsung which could see the technology appear in the Korean outfit’s smartphones and tablets.
Inductive charging uses transmitter and receiver coils that must be precisely aligned to work. You can only charge one device at a time. That’s a limitation in an era when households typically each have as many as ten rechargeable devices.
I charge my Nokia Lumia smartphone each night using this technology. It works, but I must be careful how I place my phone on the charge pad.
The phone tends to get hot while charging — that’s annoying. It is also a sign the charging is inefficient with wasted energy emerging as heat, not battery power. Inductive charging is also relatively slow.
Resonant charging can pump energy into many devices at the same time. There’s no need to fuss over placement and it wastes less energy while charging. That might not sound like a huge deal but when you multiple the waste across billions of devices, it adds up.
We’ll probably see resonant charging first in consumer devices. That market is running hot and PowerbyProxi’s technology solves a number of problems.
However, Cross is also looking to industrial applications. Resonant wireless charging can transmit power between moving parts, which has implications for automotive and airplane engineering. It can also play a role in devices like wind turbines.
Then there’s the coming internet of things which, by some estimates, could mean as many as 50 billion wirelessly connected devices in the world by the end of the decade. They will all need power. Many will need an easy way of being recharged. Resonant charging works better with tiny devices than inductive wireless charging.
Also in the pipeline are wireless rechargeable AA batteries, the kind you find in household items. Making them all easily rechargeable will make life easier and reduce waste and problems with disposing hazardous chemicals.
One possible hurdle is that there are competing standards for resonant wireless charging. The technology needs these ]resolved before it can enter the consumer mainstream. It’s not so useful if customers need different chargers for different devices.
Cross says PowerbyProxi’s technology can work with the alternatives and, anyway, convergence is on the cards.
Another advantage of settling on a standard is that it paves the way for public charging stations in places like airports and other transport terminals, in offices and cafes. When that happens, the days of eking out the last few drops of battery power from a smartphone should be history.
Devices are only going to play a greater role in our lives. The sooner PowerbyProxi gets its technology into device makers’ hands the better it will be for everybody. But it will be best of all for one small, Auckland-based technology company.