While we haven’t quite cracked the code on hover-boards, flying cars, or teleportation, modern companies have definitely made some impressive efforts towards another staple of Back to the Future-esque tech: wireless charging. Though, we say “efforts” because, as of today, wireless charging and wireless phone charging stations still haven’t completely phased out wired chargers. And there’s more than one reason why.
So what exactly is holding everyone back from releasing wireless charging pads and phone charging stations en masse? After all, if there’s one thing surveys and conversations tell us, it’s that people are sick of their cords and wires tangling, breaking, and tearing.
In fact, according to IHS Markit, more than 6 billion wireless power receivers are expected to ship out between 2018 and 2023, hinting at just how excited people are for the innovation to truly hit its stride. And furthermore, how far are we from perfecting the hardware, doing away with pads altogether, and using phone charging stations to charge from a distance?
Our hopes are to deliver a little more insight into the matter. Hopefully by doing so, we can all fall onto the same page and look forward to the dawn of new wireless phone charging stations together!
So Why is Wireless Charging Taking its Sweet Time?
All of what we mentioned above isn’t to downplay just how much wireless charging has grown since its inception. Truthfully, we’re beginning to see a growing number of wireless charging solutions in homes, retail, waiting rooms.
The problem that stops us from seeing a complete shift from cords to wireless, however, lies in energy efficiency.
Energy efficiency refers to how much of a charge from any source is retained in the battery and not discharged. Unfortunately, the charging process can never be completely 100% efficient since an amount of energy is always lost in both the battery and the charger mainly as heat.
Even wired charging is only 85%.
Compare this to Qi, one of the leaders in wireless charging technology that was actually recently adopted by Apple in their line of iPhones. Qi has done an amazing job of improving the efficiency of their wireless charging solutions, bringing it up from 60% to 75%.
That’s close, but not quite at the same level of a secure, wired connection.
And while this loss of efficiency isn’t a complete deal breaker in its own right, there’s one more breakthrough we’re waiting on before wireless charging really picks up some steam.
What About Wireless Charging From a Distance?
A major issue with wireless charging is that “wireless” doesn’t necessarily mean “unanchored”. Sure, there’s no wire, but, being locked in place next to a pad or station doesn’t really deliver on that promise of power anywhere.
Referring back to battery efficiency, remote charging is even worse off than wireless. Sitting around 10%, it’s in no state to be produced and distributed to phone users across the world. As of now, most remote charging solutions throw power in a general bubble that can charge your phone when what we need is a direct beam of power shot straight to a specific device.
That doesn’t mean efforts aren’t being made, however. In fact, Ossia announced back at CES 2019 that they were partnering with case manufacturer Spigen to bring wireless charging to your phone, or more accurately, your phone case.
Daeyoung Kim, CEO of Spigen, mentions they’re hoping to release a transmitter and power receiving case by 2020. This is definitely an exciting development, but there’s many variables that come to mind. Distance, wattage, types of devices, and more are all facets that will invariably shape how remote wireless charging works, so we may still have some groundwork to cover even after Spigen and Ossia drop their new hardware.
There’s a Need for Wired and Wireless Phone Charging Stations
There’s no denying that wireless charging has had a shaky lift off. Since the first wireless charging solution, consumers and business’ alike have had issues with connectivity, time taken to charge, efficiency, and so much more. And the longer it takes for an end all solution to drop, the more people’s skepticism will naturally grow.
The “too long didn’t read” summation of our discussion here is that, as of now, wireless charging isn’t a standalone solution. If you want to charge your phone wirelessly, you’re not going to cut your cables and throw them out since they objectively provide a faster, more reliable charge.
Until wireless phone charging stations becomes untethered and deliver the same, if not more, efficiency than wired charging, it will always be a neat add on and not an upgrade. That being said, with Apple adopting Qi and Samsung changing the game in their own way with their new Galaxy S10 and its power sharing function, we’ve got hope further and true wireless phone charging stations are on the way!