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Does Wireless Battery Charging Exist?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 25 July 2014
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As of 2009, wireless battery charging did indeed exist, and several companies had products on the market to provide wireless charging capability. Researchers were also working on the development of next generation products in a race to capture the battery charging market. Electronics stores are a likely source for wireless charging equipment, and it can also be ordered directly through manufacturers.

There are several reasons why consumers find the idea of wireless battery charging appealing. For many, the thought of getting rid of a tangle of cords and wires is pleasant, and wireless charging could also mean that people wouldn't have to worry about losing charging adapters and other accessories. Furthermore, the concept carries a note of convenience; instead of having to plug things into the wall, people could simply carry them within range of a charging device and they would charge automatically.

Wireless battery charging technology could better be termed cordless recharging. It involves the use of electromagnetic induction, which means that the device being charged needs to be in contact with the charger. Owners of electric toothbrushes may be familiar with inductive charging, because this technology is routinely used with rechargeable electric toothbrushes, in part to make sure that the batteries are tightly sealed inside.

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With electromagnetic induction, both devices are equipped with coils. A current flow on one side, in the charging device, induces voltage in the device set on or in the charger. The charging device can read the battery capacity and determine how much charging it requires, and such systems often enable rapid charging.

The issue with inductive charging is that the device being charged needs to have a coil which corresponds with the charger. For products which are sold with wireless charging capability, the coil is built right in, but with products such as charging mats which people are supposed to be able to use to wirelessly charge cell phones, PDAs, and other devices, an adapter or case is needed, with the device to be charged being plugged in and then set on the mat. Furthermore, inductive charging is not as efficient as simply plugging the device into the wall to charge.

Researchers have proposed the development of systems which could transmit usable energy within a small radius for truly wireless battery charging. Devices equipped with receivers could intercept the energy and harvest it to recharge their batteries. While this technology has been demonstrated in experimental settings, it has not yet been refined to the point where it would be available to consumers.

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Discuss this Article

anon257054
Post 7

I have a watch which winds itself based on the movement of my wrist. Could a similar device be installed in a cell phone to create a charge? Or could some element be installed which when it receives a wireless signal becomes excited and vibrates and creates current?

MrMoody
Post 6

@nony - I don't think that you've described it accurately. You don’t have a bunch of alternating current flying through the air. You are correct, that would be a very dangerous scenario indeed.

The way it works, from what I understand here, is that electromagnetic current is transmitted wirelessly, and the charging device converts this electromagnetic current to electricity which is used to charge the battery.

That approach is safe. I don’t think low levels of electromagnetic current are going to hurt anyone. Also, keep in mind that the conversion to regular current takes place in the battery charger, so you don’t have stray electric current whipping about in the air.

I think it makes sense but I don’t know if it would work well with high current situations or in situations where you don’t have access to a wireless battery charger. A solar battery charger would be more practical in many cases I think.

nony
Post 5

I guess I am not really clear on what is being transmitted wirelessly. With regular cords, you plug them into the AC outlet and 110 volts of electricity courses through the wires to the charging device.

So are we saying that with wireless battery charging, 110 volts of electricity is flying through the air to turn on the battery charger and charge the battery?

Wouldn’t that be kind of dangerous, all of that electricity floating about in the air? What if a stray signal hits you and you get zapped? I guess I don’t fully understand the technical explanation given here.

bear78
Post 4

Wow this is really cool! I must be behind technology because I had no idea wireless battery charges existed!

So what exactly is the maximum wireless range that allows me to charge my cell phone battery? And what does the charger actually look like?

Is it like wireless internet, which has a range of basically one or two buildings?

I am hoping that they can make the range so large that we can connect to our charger at home while at work and charge our phone. But I don't know if that's possible.

And what about adaptability? Will each cell phone brand have its own personalized wireless battery charger? Or will there be a single one that can be used across the different brands?

The latter would be amazing! It would save us so much trouble and money.

discographer
Post 3

@gravois-- I think I agree with you. This system is probably going to 'run' in the next couple of years and I'm sure it will be way better than how it is right now.

Plus, I imagine it's pretty expensive at this point too. It always is that way with new technology. But just a few years after its use spreads, prices will go way down.

I will hold on for several more years too, to see how it develops. But if anyone has already bought one, I would love to hear about it.

How did you like it? What do you think the pros and cons of this system are compared to plug in chargers?

gravois
Post 2

Is it really worth it to buy a wireless battery charger at this point? This seems like a rapidly evolving technology and it is only now in its infancy. I am worried that if I by one of these chargers it will just be obsolete in a few years. I have made this mistake with other technologies so I am kind of leery about wasting my money.

I can see the future benefits of the technology, but right now it doesn't seem all that helpful. If I have to put my cell phone charger on top of the wireless charger, and the charger has to be plugged in, how is this much different than simply plugging the phone in. I'm sure this technology will advance into more helpful directions, but for now I think I'll leave it to the tech nerds.

truman12
Post 1

I think that wireless energy will probably be one of the most important inventions of the future. We are getting closer and closer all the time and I think after just a few more breakthroughs we might be able to say goodbye to power cords entirely.

Imagine how convenient this would be. Your devices would never run out of power. You cell phone would never go dead, you could carry your laptop and no cord, you could eliminate the power strip from behind your TV because nothing needed to be plugged in. It won't be long before this is a reality

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