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'DNA' digital: Wireless charging – The next big thing for smartphones

Tuesday, 23 October 2012 - 11:00am IST | Agency: DNA
We have quad-core phones, 41MP sensors, massive screens, 3D and a projector – smart phones have come a really long way in just being able to let you multi-task. So, what’s next?

We have quad-core phones, 41MP sensors, massive screens, 3D and a projector – smart phones have come a really long way in just being able to let you multi-task. So, what’s next? According to the new trend, it seems like wireless charging will be all the rage in tablets and smart phones in 2013. Let’s find out more about this new wireless technology.

How does it work?
Wireless charging a.k.a inductive charging, uses an electromagnetic field to transfer power and charge the device. It consists of having an inductive coil placed in the base of charging station and one in the device. By using an alternating electromagnetic field, the coil in the device is activated based on its proximity and this is converted back into electrical current to charge the battery.

Advantages
There’s a much lower risk of an electrical shock while charging the device.

No worry of corrosion as the coils are enclosed and are safe from moisture. Very convenient as you no longer have to be tethered to a power cable.

Drawbacks
As you might have guessed, this is not the most efficient way to charge your phone as there’s a lot of power that’s wasted in the form of heat.

It takes longer to charge and is costly due to the magnetic coils.  No singular standard yet for wireless charging, so compatibility between devices and peripherals is an issue.

Standards adopted so far
‘Qi’ is so far the standard in use for many of the top smartphone makers like Samsung, Nokia, HTC and the like. This proprietary interface is developed by the Wireless Power Consortium and designed for portable devices like smartphones. The system works by placing the device that needs to be charged on a ‘transmission pad’ in order for the inductive charging to kick in.

Currently, Nokia is the only smartphone maker to have announced phones with wireless charging capabilities. The Nokia Lumia 920 and 820 will both feature this technology and are based on the soon to be launched Windows Phone 8 platform by Microsoft.  The Lumia 920 is Nokia’s flagship device and will have this fitted as standard whereas the 820 will have an interchangeable cover with the wireless charging tech built-in. Apart from smartphones and possibly tablets in the near future, Intel is all set to update its Ultrabook line-up with its self-developed wireless charging technology. We can expect this in their 2013 line of Ultrabooks as well as all-in one PCs. One area where feature would be really helpful in a keyboard and mouse as you won’t have to charge or replace batteries.

Accessories for wireless charging are few and far between right now. Nokia announced a bunch of accessories when they launched the Lumia 920. This included a new charging pillow by FatBoy, wireless charging stands and also JBL PowerUp wireless charging speaker. Initially, only the high-end devices will sport this feature, come 2013, but as and when the technology matures and cost of production decreases, expect this to be commonplace just like Wi-Fi and GPS nowadays.
 


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