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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 @03:15PM (#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 @03:21PM (#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.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mcgrew (92797) *

      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 kelemvor4 (1980226) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @03:41PM (#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 Obfuscant (592200)

          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.

          If you can waterproof the ubiquitous USB connection, then you can also waterproof any power connection, so wireless charging really adds nothing to the waterproofability of a device.

          • by wonkey_monkey (2592601) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @04:32PM (#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 hoggoth (414195) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @04:56PM (#41305343) Journal

              Yes, you can. Waterproof the port, allow the conductive to pass through the waterproofed port. Set up a second ground/power pair that is ONLY used to detect when the device is submerged in a conductive medium and use that to disable the other pins avoiding a short circuit.

              The metal pins still won't be happy to be submerged in a corrosive salt-water solution but if you rinse it off right away it should be ok.

            • by EdIII (1114411)

              It's just a couple of prongs that make a connection. It's easy to waterproof the connector, it's not so easy to make the act of connecting it waterproof.

              I can think of several ways to allow you to connect something underwater while maintaining waterproof capabilities, but then it would cease to be a USB cable.

              • by Obfuscant (592200)

                It's easy to waterproof the connector, it's not so easy to make the act of connecting it waterproof.

                A waterproof device doesn't mean you have to be able to connect external cables to it while underwater, only that it is impervious to water while it is submerged. I don't think many people are going to say "gee, I have to connect this phone to the USB cable while it's still in the toilet."

                Seacon, for example, makes lots of waterproof connections, but many of those are not underwater mateable, they need to be connected while on land and then they can be submerged without damage.

            • by Obfuscant (592200)

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

              Not moot. It proves the point. Going to wireless charging removes one (or maybe zero, if you charge via USB to start with) holes in the case. If you can't waterproof the USB connection, then having no charging connection doesn't make the device waterproof. You still have the USB port that lets water in.

              OTH, if you CAN waterproof the USB connection, then you can do the same to the charging connection, and you will have just as waterproof a device as one without a charging connection.

              In other words, since

        • A very few smartphone manufacturers are making phones already that are shockproof and waterproof. My Casio, for example, is supposed to survive 30 minutes one meter underwater or being dropped a couple of meters onto concrete. All it takes is sealed caps on the ports (although I don't plan to TEST my Casio until I do it accidentally:-). My wife's iPhone, OTOH, was fried by a single lousy drop of water in its enormously wide and entirely nonstandard (well, except for Apple's own "standards") charging/play
      • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @03:45PM (#41304369)

        Plugging it in is no bigger a deal than laying it on a charging pad.

        I bought one of those firesale HP touchpads. They have wireless charging with a special stand and it is the single best feature of the device. Plugging in to charge sucks - there is wear-and-tear on the mini-usb port, the fiddling to get everything lined up requires good lighting and too much time. With the wireless charging stand, it is dead simple - just put it on the stand, listen for the "bonk" sound the OS makes when charging starts and everything just works. It is so much more convenient that wireless charging is now mandatory for any of my future phone and tablet purchases.

        • by LurkerXXX (667952)

          The Palm Pre (HP Pre after HP bought Palm) phones had the same wireless charging, and with magnetic charging stands. It was easy to have a stand on your desk at work, at home, and one on the car's dash, so that wherever you were, you could just set the phone down, have it stuck in place and charging until you were ready to move again.

      • by heypete (60671) <pete@heypete.com> on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @03:47PM (#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 @03:50PM (#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)

        • by Urza9814 (883915)

          I cannot understand this. If you (or your girlfriend) are breaking your ports that easily, either you're buying crap phones or you're putting them through some SERIOUS abuse. I've got a 7 year old phone in my pocket right now, and guess what? Nothing's broken. Not a single connector. And I do have a somewhat nasty habit of pulling the device from the nightstand to my bed by yanking on the charging cable....

          Of all the devices I've ever owned, I've only ever had two ports break -- one was a USB port on the fr

      • Hmm.. i disagree. tossing my phone on to the couch is a lot easier than lining up the dastardly adapter in the fragile charging stand, or having to dink with cables and find an outlet. maybe i'm just super lazy, but i really like the sound of not having to fuss with adapters, and i'm over 40.

        • by PhotoJim (813785)

          I just toss my phone into the cradle I bought for it. It's far easier to line up than a naked connector, and as a bonus, I have a hardware audio connection with my phone as a result.

      • by Belial6 (794905)
        Wireless charging means that accessories can be made that work with any device. Plugging in cables is WAY more of a hassle than just sliding the phone into slot, or setting it on a pad. The connectors also have a tendency to break. Wireless charging is just a bit more useful than Bluetooth.
    • More than cool. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Orsmo (976) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @04:06PM (#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 Joce640k (829181)

      Exactly how lazy/self entitled do you have to be to want this?

      Part of the problem is that there's no standard for power connectors. We all seem to be moving to 5V because of USB but the connector still isn't decided.

      PS: Micro USB is a rubbish connector for power. Far too small and fiddly in use. No connector should take three attempts to connect it so make them round. Center pin connectors aren't needed any more with modern wall warts so something like a headphone jack would be good.

  • Not new (Score:5, Informative)

    by michaelmalak (91262) <michael@michaelmalak.com> on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @03:24PM (#41304073) Homepage
    For anyone who's followed their dentist's advice, wireless charging is not new [metafilter.com].
  • Efficiency alone is such a big problem that it is hard to imagine it getting widely adopted before regulators kill it.

    It is much more logical to push for common connectors.

    • by Barlo_Mung_42 (411228) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @03:29PM (#41304153) Homepage

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

    • So buy a better fridge or something. There. You just carbon credited about ten years of phone charging.

      • by bkaul01 (619795)
        Well, except for all that's involved in manufacturing the new fridge, discharging the refrigerant, disposing of the old one, etc. ...
    • These devices use very little power.

      A typical person in the Western world uses, on average, 2+ kW. That's not 2kWh per day, that's 2+ kWh EACH AND EVERY HOUR.

      These devices that are proposed to be charged wirelessly are usually just a few watts, about 1/1000 of what the person is using; so even if the power efficiency halved for those particular devices, it would make essentially sod-all difference.

      The other thing is that in many cases if it's easier to recharge, then you don't need such a big battery; batte

      • by Algae_94 (2017070) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @04:21PM (#41304887) Journal

        A typical person in the Western world uses, on average, 2+ kW. That's not 2kWh per day, that's 2+ kWh EACH AND EVERY HOUR.

        Can you back this up a bit? You're saying that the average Westerner uses 48+ kWh every day. That's well over a megaWatt hour every month (and closer to 1.5 MWh). Does this figure include the average person's share of the power used for street lights, traffic lights, businesses, etc.?

        • by Carewolf (581105)

          If it includes fuel. then I am surprised it isn't higher. An empty house with all the light turned off uses between 1-2kW just from running refrigerator, freezer and stand-by power for all the electronic junk plus heating and/or air-conditioning (well 3-4kW if A/C is actually turned on).

      • by PIBM (588930)

        I don't know how you reach that number, but for my family of 5, in a large house with lots of window in a very northern location that gets very cold in the winter and needs a lot of lighting, with tons of computers & devices, we only manage to reach a yearly average of a bit less than 3kW. That's less than 0.6kW per occupant.

        Not that I am not seeing your point, I just hate that over 83% of all statistics like those come from nowhere!

    • Hmmm, how about wirelessly powered light fixtures? We can use incandescent bulbs again since we aren't worried about efficiency!
    • by kheldan (1460303)
      Seriously, this.
      I just don't get why this is such a popular idea, unless I remind myself that the average person is more or less technically uneducated, and doesn't understand that it's wildly energy inefficient. Also, echoing other comments on this topic: This is far from a new idea, and again: there are reasons we haven't gone this way before, but nobody seems to understand that.
      • by oji-sama (1151023)

        Seriously, this. I just don't get why this is such a popular idea, unless I remind myself that the average person is more or less technically uneducated, and doesn't understand that it's wildly energy inefficient. Also, echoing other comments on this topic: This is far from a new idea, and again: there are reasons we haven't gone this way before, but nobody seems to understand that.

        Nothing serious about the inefficiency. We are not talking about cars, we are talking about 5W chargers...

        I would read this with a pinch of salt (I probably would not often charge two devices at the same time), but it is pretty informative. http://www.wirelesspowerconsortium.com/technology/total-energy-consumption.html [wirelesspo...ortium.com]

      • by hawguy (1600213)

        Seriously, this.
        I just don't get why this is such a popular idea, unless I remind myself that the average person is more or less technically uneducated, and doesn't understand that it's wildly energy inefficient. Also, echoing other comments on this topic: This is far from a new idea, and again: there are reasons we haven't gone this way before, but nobody seems to understand that.

        Since you're so technically educated, please explain how it's so energy inefficient? A wireless charging device is essentially half of a transformer (your phone is the other half). Transformer efficiency can exceed 99%. But since the wireless charging mat is not a perfect transformer (an air gap is not as efficient as a metal core), efficiency will be lower, but I don't see why it can't exceed 90%. Do you have documentation for this low efficiency claim?

    • by hawguy (1600213)

      Efficiency alone is such a big problem that it is hard to imagine it getting widely adopted before regulators kill it.

      It is much more logical to push for common connectors.

      As long as it doesn't use much standby power, efficiency during charging shouldn't be that big of a factor.

      My phone battery holds around 8Watt-hours of power, so even if the charger is only 50% efficient, that means 8Wh of power wasted for each charge.

      8 Wh wasted every day for a year is 3Kwh, or around 45 cents of power (depending on where you live).

      In comparison, an EnergyStar rated TV is allowed to consume up to 1W of power in sleep mode, so if your TV is powered off 16 hours a day, it will waste 16Wh of

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @03:25PM (#41304083)

    Thanks to the widely accepted Qi standard, there shouldn't be a problem with interoperability [...]

    Just then, Tim Cook looked at that with a cold, calculated expression, and simply responded, "Challenge accepted".

  • I know a few people who would actually remember to charge their phones given wireless tech that don't now.

    All they need is to put the charger by their bed and they're set.

  • by alen (225700) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @03:27PM (#41304131)

    i just plug my iphone into my laptop all day and not think about it. at home its into the wall

    what does wireless charging give me?

    • by hawguy (1600213)

      i just plug my iphone into my laptop all day and not think about it. at home its into the wall

      what does wireless charging give me?

      It would give you a few seconds of your time back each day. Instead of having to plug it in to your laptop when you get to work, unplug it when you leave, plug it in when you get home, unplug it when you leave, you could just drop it on the charging mat at night when you go to bed and you're done. No cables to plug in.

  • Rage Comic (Score:3, Funny)

    by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @03:28PM (#41304141)

    Panel 1: Phone runs out of juice
    Panel 2: Put phone on wireless charger
    Panel 3: Hmm... wireless energy transfer...
    Panel 4: I am Nikola Tesla!
    Panel 5: Me gusta!
    Panel 6: Extra panel. Ignore.

  • by gmarsh (839707) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @03:40PM (#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 rrohbeck (944847)

      Yup. The mechanical stress from plugging it in and pulling is quite a bit. Power plugs failed on three laptops/netbooks of mine and the connector on my current phone has started to move a lot more than it used to. I wonder how long the solder connection will last.

    • 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.)

      True, one prematurely replaced cell phone buys quite a few kilowatt-hours of electricity. And add to that that one prematurely replaced hip buys a lot of cellphones.

    • by Chuckstar (799005)

      I've replaced the MicroUSB connector in my cellphone *twice*... Supposedly these things are rated for 10,000 cycles, but I haven't seen it... 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.

      I think I see the problem

  • by symes (835608) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @03:42PM (#41304337) Journal

    Time is, I think, the real issue for consumers. If you can put your phone on a table, or whatever, for 30mins and have it completely recharged this will do well. But I have a feeling that inefficiency will make it something for when you sleep, so you can wake up to fully recharged gadgets. I can't see wireless providing more juice than most gadgets use so having them in public places, coffee shops. etc., will not overcome the inevitable flat battery, just delay it for a bit.

    • by oji-sama (1151023)

      Time is, I think, the real issue for consumers. If you can put your phone on a table, or whatever, for 30mins and have it completely recharged this will do well. But I have a feeling that inefficiency will make it something for when you sleep, so you can wake up to fully recharged gadgets. I can't see wireless providing more juice than most gadgets use so having them in public places, coffee shops. etc., will not overcome the inevitable flat battery, just delay it for a bit.

      The efficiency is around 70%, so it will certainly delay the flat battery. Especially if the phone were to do wireless syncing at the same time (so less syncing would be needed when it is on its own battery...)

  • by vlm (69642) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @03:44PM (#41304365)

    I find it odd no one has implemented a homebrew hack of Qi.

    You'd think it would be a fairly stereotypical elektor / nuts n volts / QST QEX type of article, "run your ardweeeeeeeeno off a Qi charger!" type of article.

    Or if you'd prefer hardware modules, a adafruit / dangerous prototypes here's a little 1 sq inch PCB that when waved over a Qi charger outputs regulated 5 volts on these terminals.

    All that's out there is sealed consumer grade end user devices, which is kinda weird compared to, say, the bluetooth or GPS or wifi or ethernet or pretty much every other "system" ecosystem.

    Doesn't even have to be "hack-ish" for end user devices. Personally, as a guy who occasionally butchers wood aka wanna be finish carpenter, I'd wanna buy a little charger module for some of my projects. Here, route a pocket of specified dimensions, epoxy module in place, run power cable to wall, module is polyurethane finish compatible (or lacquer or whatever). I'm sure that would be very challenging for a roofer or someone completely confounded at the installation of a standard lockset in a pre-drilled door, but I think your average "real" woodworker could figure it out easily enough.

    Its like they're trying to choke off innovation to make it fail, so they can "prove" no one wants it.

  • My alarm clock is a touchpad with wireless charging. Who wants to fumble with fragile cables/docks in the dark? I'm looking forward to having a wireless charging phone again for the same reason, Docks and ports break easily and I do not want to deal with them when half awake. In my bedroom, I want easy access to devices in the dark. The rest of the time, I use wires. Kind of like asking why people want wireless internet or audio, there are places where wireless is worth the hastle.
  • by Above (100351) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @03:47PM (#41304401)

    Each time I read a wireless charging article I find people who seem incapable of believing how simply most consumers will use this technology. Consumers don't want wireless charging primarily for use at a coffee shop, or on the bus, or in a train. They aren't, for the most part, interested in the ability to top off at the airport. No, for all of those things consumers have always demanded enough battery life to make it through the day without needing to recharge. Preferably several days. Most phones deliver, at least for the right usage patterns.

    Wireless charging is all about forgetting to charge at home, and the inconvenience of 25 different chargers. Sitting next to me are propretary chargers for proprietary devices. A digital SLR. A digital point and shoot. An old cell phone. A new cell phone. A camcorder. Some regular AA's for my Apple wireless keyboard. The number of wall warts and specialty cables is astounding and annoying. Even if all the tech wasn't a disaster, sometimes I'm just tired and forget to charge my phone overnight.

    This is why wireless is such a sexy idea. Imagine a wireless charging pad where you store your cameras, and one on your bedside table. You just toss your phone or cameras on it at night, wake up and it is charged. No plugging in cables. No row of wall warts. No incompatible battery chargers. No running out of outlets along a segment of counter.

    Wireless charging's killer app is at home. One charging "area" for multiple devices. Make it cheap enough I can afford one by my desk, in my kitchen, and at my night stand and my gizmos will never run out of juice again, and topping off at a coffee shop, airport, or other place will diminish in need.

    • by vlm (69642)

      Also as far as I know Qi is worldwide, unlike almost every other charging standard. If this tech survives, you'll be able to walk into every hotel room in the world and drop your phone on the charger and it'll work.

      Please don't tell me USB is worldwide. By "USB" do you mean micro, mini, full size, or that apple doc connector, and do you mean raw regulated 5V or apple wiring with the weird sense resistors to program peak current? AC line power is more "standard" than USB.

  • We've been going nutz and switching to crappy fluorescent lamps for years because they are more efficient, phone makers have been adopting charging standards that allow a phone charger to be used with any brand of phone, and they've been redesigning those for minimal "vampire" (1W) power use. Now, all of a sudden, we should give up on efficiency?

    10 years ago I used to drop my Palm Pilot into a charging/sync cradle. It was efficient and worked reliably. Wireless charging is not an improvement.

    • by jittles (1613415)
      Says the man who has never had the convenience of an inductively charged device. I thought the same way as you until I got an HP Touchpad and an inductive charger. It is amazing. I never worried about electricity with that thing, or breaking the micro USB port (which I have done on at least 4 phones, from drops). There is no tripping, no anything. Its nice.You only need a cable if you want to sync via USB instead of WiFi
  • by labnet (457441) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @03:52PM (#41304491)

    The QI chargers frequency shift between 110khz and 205khz depending on power demand. This stomps over the common RFID frequencies of 125khz and 134.2khz which also use near field coupling to communicate with tags commonly used in animal and asset identification.
    These systems already have a hard time dealing with ambient noise from motors, power lines etc. .Having deliberate frequency changing leaky coupled chargers is going to cause massive interference headaches for hundreds of thousands of existing LF RFID operators.

    Why couldn't they have limited the carrier from 150 to 250khz instead???

    • by vlm (69642)

      Lowest aviation NDB I'm aware is is around 190 KHz so you're already pissing off the aviators with the current 110-205 standard. push it lower like 80 to 100 please, not into the aviation bands. "Malfunctioning Qi charger kills hundreds in jetliner crash!" etc.

  • by Obfuscant (592200) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @03:55PM (#41304535)
    will be the lost cellphone recovery services.

    Imagine how many people will walk away from their cellphones after they've put them on the table at the coffee shop. The old adage "keep it in your pants" will take on a whole new life.

  • I've got lots of friends that won't hold a cell phone to their heads to use it, but will only use their cell phone with a lanyard/earbud, due to concerns about phone radiation.

    Now we're supposed to convince them that it's ok to put a device on a charging pad?

    • by Belial6 (794905)
      Do they also pull their bed away from the wall because of the power lines running inside them?
  • This article is a pitch for the Qi standard. The "widely accepted Qi standard" is still one of several competing technologies. Neither Apple nor Google is a member of the Wireless Power Consortium. There are 91 Qi compatible products [wirelesspo...ortium.com], but most of them are chargers or add-on power receivers. Other than NTT DoCoMo, almost no manufacturer makes phones tablets with the Qi technology. Nobody seems to make a tablet or laptop with it built in.

    One thing they got right is that there's minimal communication betwe

  • 20 years ago there was a lot of talk about EM radiation and health effects. There's no myth about health effects it's just safe limits for exposure haven't been established. Yes it's easy to tell when upper limits cause damage but the constant exposure we already get does have some risk. The problem is these types of charging systems increase the exposure many times over current levels. I was concerned with proposals for embedded road chargers. Ironically magnalevel trains don't have this issue because they
  • ...for the power companies, that is.

    For end users who aren't physically handicapped, well, not so much.

  • by wings (27310) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @05:02PM (#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.
  • was, hands down, the best feature of the phone/tablet.
    A cute little base that the phone clung to magnetically, and it would charge.
    No fiddling with the fragile micro-USB cover, no getting the connector upside-down.
    Never misplaced my phone, because I would just park it on the Touchstone at home or work (I bought two).
  • by evilviper (135110) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @07:53PM (#41307153) Journal

    What's with all the contrarians? Why do we need wireless charging? For the same reasons your phone has WiFi and not an RJ45 port...

    As a heavy Android phone user, I'm anxiously awaiting some wireless charging standard. I have wall-warts all over my house, so that wherever I sit, I can plug-in... Because cell phones just can't handle even a half day of heavy use between recharges. And even if one could, I wouldn't want to cut it that close.

    So now, my cell is perpetually tethered to a microUSB cable, getting pulled off tables onto the floor, getting tugged when I try to move it and there's not enough slack, getting stress on the cable and socket when I want to set it on the armrest right where the plug is sticking out, and always fumbling with putting the connector in the right way, and pulling it out when I go, or it becomes a particular nusiance, maybe 10x a day.

    What's more is the nusiance of travel... I've got a cigarette lighter to microUSB plug for driving, then I've got to carry a wall adapter for motel rooms, conference rooms, or whatnot, and then supplament that with a AA battery to microUSB adapter when I'm not within reach of a power outlet, but still need to use my phone heavily. Times like flying in particular.

    All that stuff is much, much larger than my cell phone, and could be eliminated from my bag if restaurants, hotels, cars, passenger jets, and conference rooms had them built-in.

    Now let's consider that I carry two or more devices around... One phone needs one charger, while the other phone won't charge from it at all. Wall chargers break USB specs in multiple, and mutually incompatible ways. That's why we have items like the Skiva QuadPower, which has one port that works on Apple devices, one port that works on Android devices, and two generic USB ports that are needed for Palm/Blackberry/BREW/Nokia/etc devices, that won't charge from the other ports.

    And that's just getting started. Throw in tablets, or netbooks/ultrabooks, or even laptops. Tablets are almost always able to charge from USB, even if only very slowly, because we've built the modern world on the non-standard USB charging standard, and everyone wants to be able to get some charge out of it in the worst case. But the low voltage and power of USB leads to far more contortions than even smartphones have to contend with... And all because USB is such a poor charging standard. I'd sure love a universal charger, but even low power netbooks/ultrabooks don't even try to use USB, because the voltage is far too low, and they'd have to go nuts to add more special-cases to USB wall chargers.

    We clearly need something better... Something that can supply more than 5v, and a whole lot of amps.

    Who wouldn't want to have a flat pad they can put on their coffee table, that automatically starts charging any device you set on it? Laptop, cell phone, tablet, maybe laptop batteries not currently connected, etc. Throw in TV remote controls, flashlights, cordless keyboards/mice, console game controllers, etc., for good measure. It would be an incredible improvement over the current disjointed charging situation. And don't start complaining about efficiency... Even if it's got high losses, being able to top-off everywhere you go is much more efficient than having your battery get drained.

"Marriage is like a cage; one sees the birds outside desperate to get in, and those inside desperate to get out." -- Montaigne

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