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Power Wireless Networking Hardware

Cutting the Power Cable: How Advantageous Is Wireless Charging? 284

Posted by Soulskill
from the very-advantageous-for-the-lazy dept.
Lucas123 writes "Furniture and auto makers are already ramping up production of wireless charging for mobile devices that will also allow I/O for music and data synchronization. Thanks to the widely accepted Qi standard, there shouldn't be a problem with interoperability, but how advantageous is wireless charging? Would it really offer more charging opportunities for mobile users in coffee shops who are today hamstrung by how many outlets are available? And then there's the added cost and reduced efficiency. As wireless systems are more complicated, a wireless battery charger will be more expensive and there are resistive losses on the coil, stray coupling, etc."
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Cutting the Power Cable: How Advantageous Is Wireless Charging?

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  • by crazyjj (2598719) * on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @02:15PM (#41303959)

    "Come to our hip coffee shop and charge wirelessly!" will attract a certain trendy crowd at first (maybe enough to justify the new furniture/equipment). But, in practice, it won't be much different than offering USB ports/outlets/ethernet ports/wireless service/etc. that a lot of places already offer. There are already a million places to connect and recharge in the big city. Aside from the initial cool factor, this one is no different. Things move so fast these days, it doesn't take very long for cool tech to turn into "so what?"

    I just hope no one spills their coffee on the expensive new charging table.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @02:21PM (#41304043)

    "I just hope no one spills their coffee on the expensive new charging table."

    It'll be waterproof. Nice feature. My electric toothbrush has had this for years.

  • by Barlo_Mung_42 (411228) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @02:29PM (#41304153) Homepage

    We pretty much already have common connectors with the exception of Apple.

  • by mcgrew (92797) * on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @02:32PM (#41304217) Homepage Journal

    I agree, its only value is the "coolness" factor (which only matters to those under 30). It won't be a real benefit unless it gets good enough that you can charge your phone without taking it out of your pocket. Plugging it in is no bigger a deal than laying it on a charging pad. If I could have a wireless charger that would charge it from across my living room, that would be great; I'd buy one. But to have to put it on a mat, using more electricity than if I plugged it in? No thanks.

  • by gmarsh (839707) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @02:40PM (#41304307)

    Something to consider - I've replaced the MicroUSB connector in my cellphone *twice*. The phone would work for about a year, then it would go flaky - you'd have to wiggle the connector a few times for the phone to reliably charge, and sometimes I'd go check on it and it wouldn't be charging - and it would happen with different cables. Supposedly these things are rated for 10,000 cycles, but I haven't seen it. Maybe my phone does something it shouldn't, like spark the +5V pin when the connector is plugged in. *shrug*

    Secondly, I've caught the cord of my phone multiple times and pulled it off the desk onto the floor - and my cats/dogs have probably done it more times than I have.

    Though there's an efficiency loss in wireless charging versus conductive charging, I wonder if there's an efficiency gain that exists in less phones being repaired/replaced because of damage related to conductive charging.

    (Note that this is not a well thought out, researched argument - just a dumb thought.)

  • by kelemvor4 (1980226) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @02:41PM (#41304317)

    I agree, its only value is the "coolness" factor (which only matters to those under 30). It won't be a real benefit unless it gets good enough that you can charge your phone without taking it out of your pocket. Plugging it in is no bigger a deal than laying it on a charging pad. If I could have a wireless charger that would charge it from across my living room, that would be great; I'd buy one. But to have to put it on a mat, using more electricity than if I plugged it in? No thanks.

    If you eliminate the need for a power connector, it would be pretty simple to start producing smartphones and other devices that are waterproof themselves. That would be a nice improvement. My last smartphone met with a watery grave. I see it as just a gimmick to add this onto an existing device, but for new devices designed around this it would be useful.

  • by heypete (60671) <pete@heypete.com> on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @02:47PM (#41304409) Homepage

    I dunno, I have a ruggedized Samsung mobile phone. It's waterproof to 1 meter, dustproof, vibration resistant, etc. The microphone and speaker are behind impermeable membranes while the battery compartment and microUSB charging port are behind separate gasketed panels.

    Every time I open the charging panel I put wear and tear on the gasket material. If I could wirelessly charge it then I'd only ever need to open it if I needed to change SIM cards, the battery, or the rare occasion where I'd need to plug it into the computer for some reason. Wireless charging, even on a charging pad, has some appeal to me.

  • by mcelrath (8027) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @02:50PM (#41304459) Homepage

    The power connector itself is a massive point of failure, as they get full of dust, dirt, bent, static discharge, etc. My girlfriend has gone through 4 phones essentially because the microUSB power connector failed. I recently had to do some minor surgery to my Galaxy Nexus because the power connector was slightly bent, so that it always showed that it was charging even when not connected.

    Good riddance to wired power. I'd gladly take my phone it out of my pocket and place it on a pad. I can't wait until such charging pads can be built into couch arms, tables, desks, etc. I'll never have to worry about whether my devices are charged. And some of them could be physically sealed from dust and water, substantially increasing their lifetime. (If you can forgo the headphone jack, microphone, etc -- like a on tablet)

  • More than cool. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Orsmo (976) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @03:06PM (#41304701) Homepage

    I'm sure there's definitely a whiz-bang factor at work here, but I think there's more to it than that.

    Power is the last reason you need to connect a cable to most wireless devices now. Have low bandwidth data needs communicated at short distances (both a limitation and a feature)? There's NFC. Have one or two-way audio, or higher speed data transmission with the range of a room or two? There's Bluetooth. Need to communicate at greater range with much higher bandwidth? There's Wifi. Need to charge your device? There's Qi.

    Why do I need a USB port anymore? My phone syncs over my WiFi network. It talks to my car audio system via Bluetooth. It talks to my car speaker phone or my headset via Bluetooth too. It just might, someday very soon, pay for my purchase via NFC as I swipe it at the checkout lane. Someday soon, you may even pair your device with Bluetooth accessories or join it to a WiFi network by passing it over a NFC pad. So I have to find the right cable and power adapter to charge it? Why should I have to do that when there's Qi?

    Given that Qi can be combined with NFC, its possible that there is some hardware design synergy that makes the cost of implementing both together more palatable than implementing either alone. Honestly, if Apple were a member of the Wireless Power Consortium, I'd expect the new iPhone to have both NFC and Qi. Even without that membership, it just might anyway.

  • by wonkey_monkey (2592601) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @03:32PM (#41305025) Homepage

    If you can waterproof the ubiquitous USB connection

    Right. So, can you? Because if you can't, it renders the rest of your statement moot.

  • by wings (27310) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @04:02PM (#41305423) Homepage
    My concern would be the charging efficiency compared to a wired charger.
    Now, I don't know about the efficiency of this kind of wireless charger or of wired chargers for that matter, but I'd expect a consumer grade wireless charger to be less efficient than a wired one. If we're going to put a few hundred million of these things in service I'd like to know what the energy penalty will be.
  • by lennier (44736) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @05:28PM (#41306371) Homepage

    Eliminating the battery would be great as long as you can manage to make it through your day never getting more than a few inches from a charging station. I envision thousands of miles of charging trays built into every sidewalk, wainscott, chair-rail, railing, escalator, and countertop. You could have hanging charge-lines you could take with you when you cross streets like the overhead power used for trolley-cars.

    Thank you for that awesome 1930s-radiopunk-dystopia mental image.

    Seriously, I want a wallpaper of that.

    (Once a day, like clockwork, New York City shuts down as Pirate Nikola Tesla broadcasts tendrils of free charge-lightning all across the Eastern Seaboard from his secret Magnifying Transmitter base. Desperate power-hungry citizens raise dirty vacuum tubes to the heavens to harvest illegal St Elmo's Fire. Meanwhile mammoth Edison Company marketing dirigibles, fresh from destroying the Martian invading force, drop Tripods full of patent lawyers in the Los Angeles desert to storm Fortress Hollywood...)

  • by foniksonik (573572) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @05:57PM (#41306659) Homepage Journal

    iPhones no longer need/use a USB port. Everything is wireless except charging.

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