What technologies to watch for in 2014? – Part 1
When will wireless charging come of age?
Last month at the International CES in Las Vegas a multimode wireless charging solution caught the eye. The MediaTek technology enables users to charge devices anywhere at any time on a specific pad or surface, and can be used for inductive or resonant wireless charging applications.
The multimode approach could be a possible game-changer because it straddles the two major technology camps promoting most wireless power solutions. The Inductive camp (tightly coupled technology) is being currently being favored by the likes of Nokia, Samsung, LG, and Verizon. The resonance camp (loosely coupled technology) is currently backed by AT&T, Google, Proctor, and TI.
So why has the MediaTek approach got so much potential? Well mainly because it may just break the stranglehold that is currently holding back the universal introduction of wireless charging – namely competing specifications. Wireless charging has looked to be in danger of falling into the sort of morass of competing specs and standards that prolonged the birth and mass adoption of numerous game-changing technologies. Think of, as a case in point, the specsmanship and fun and games in the 1970s and 1980s that initially held back what ultimately became the humble yet ubiquitous floppy disk.
Although the MediaTek charger essentially offers a differentiated resonance solution, the company’s innovative multimode receiver technology will allow users to charge their devices by using existing inductive chargers or the new generation of resonance chargers. The MediaTek solution could prove heretical to both the inductive and resonance camps because it allows us all to use a single coil to power up our iPad, Samsung tablet or Android device (whatever is your preference). To pour more petrol on the fire the MediaTek solution looks like being able charge over longer physical distances which is another key factor.
Admittedly CES 2014 also saw ConvenientPower unveil what the company claims is the world’s first magnetic resonance technology to wirelessly charge Qi mobile phones at distances of up to 18 mm. That is three times more than today’s Qi solutions allow but is that enough?
ConvenientPower’s WoW Z device will prove ideal for applications such as mobile phone accessories, furniture, game peripherals, smart glasses and smart watches.
Backed by more than 197 companies of the Wireless Power Consortium, Qi is the global standard for wireless charging which is now integrated in more than 414 products, ranging from smartphones, phablets, tablets to charging pads, gaming controllers, Bluetooth headsets as well as automobile consoles.
From the consumer point of view all we want is a power charger that is simple to use, portable, as cheap as possible, and is capable of powering up multiple devices at the same time.
The first company to show it can tick all these wish list boxes is going to be very happy indeed because the wireless charging market is akin to a dam that is about to crack and unleash a mighty big flood.
In 2013 as many 20 million wireless charging receivers were shipped. Many of these were integrated into mobile phones and tablets to enable wireless charging straight out of the box. However, according to market intelligence analyst IHS the number wireless charging receivers is to grow to 700 million by 2018.
Another market intelligence analyst, 6Wresearch predicts the global wireless charging market will reach $9,947.4 million by 2018, growing at a CAGR of 42.6% during the period 2013-2018.
If a truly universal wireless charging solution can get off the launch-pad then these forecast may just be on the conservative side because it could unleash a lot of retail and business service companies wanting to plug into the wireless charging bandwagon.
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