Wireless Charging – Cutting the cord

A challenge that most users of smart gadgets and portable devices such as smartphones, fitness bands and IoT devices face is charging them on the go. The concept of wireless charging is based on Faraday’s Law of Induction and was experimented by Serbian-American inventor Nikola Tesla in… (Featured image is for representational purpose alone and has been sourced from https://c1.staticflickr.com/6/5540/10728457974_1cdef88ab8_b.jpg)

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A challenge that most users of smart gadgets and portable devices such as smartphones, fitness bands and IoT devices face is charging them on the go.  How does wireless charging worksThe concept of wireless charging is based on Faraday’s Law of Induction and was experimented by Serbian-American inventor Nikola Tesla in the 1890s. Since then, the technology has undergone multiple tests and developments. Today, wireless charging technology support standards developed by the Wireless Power Consortium and the AirFuel Alliance (formerly A4WP and PMA), making the wireless charging industry an interesting domain for innovation.

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Big and small players are exploring this technology to unearth niche methods that allow for easy wireless charging. Sony was granted a patent US9577463B2, which describes “Portable device to portable device wireless power transfer methods and systems”. The patent discloses a method of charging a portable consumer electronic device by a second portable consumer electronic device via an antenna system. This antenna needs to be electrically coupled with a battery to wirelessly transfer power.

Wirelessly transferring power between devices

US9577463B2: Wirelessly transferring power between devices

Qualcomm has also forayed into this space with a granted patent US8947041B2, titled “Bidirectional wireless power transmission”. The patent discloses a method for wireless exchange of power from one wireless chargeable device to another wireless chargeable device.

Bidirectional power transmission between devices

US8947041B2: Bidirectional power transmission between devices

An analysis of major patentees in wireless charging in the U.S. region reveals a clear race for leadership brewing between Qualcomm and Samsung. Qualcomm, Samsung, Intel, NXP Corporation, Texas Instruments and ST Microelectronics lead the list of leading assignees.

Leading patent assignees in wireless charging technology Source: Analysis based on data from Innography (https://www.innography.com/)

Leading patent assignees in wireless charging technology
Source: Analysis based on data from Innography

Wireless charging from Portable Devices to Electric Vehicles

With demand for electric vehicles and hybrid electric vehicles on the rise, there is a growing requirement for wireless charging facilities in the automobile industry. WiTricity, a startup, is leading the way with its magnetic resonance-based wireless power-transfer expertise and technology. WiTricity and STMicroelectronics have partnered to develop semiconductor solutions that combine WiTricity’s intellectual property and wireless power transfer expertise of STMicroelectronics to power and charge consumer electronics, Internet of Things (IoT) devices, as well as medical, industrial, and automotive applications.

A patent application CN101984537 A titled “Magnetic resonance wireless charging device for electric vehicles” (assigned to Wuhan Zhongyuan Electronic Group) discloses magnetic resonance wireless charging device for electric vehicles.

Magnetic resonance wireless charging device for electric vehicles

CN101984537A: Magnetic resonance wireless charging device for electric vehicles

ELIX Wireless Charging Systems, a spin-off of University of British Columbia, also offers wireless power transfer technology to charge electric vehicles. It recently collaborated with Zongshen Group to develop and manufacture wireless chargers for Chinese and North American electric vehicle markets.

Qualcomm has also joined the race with Efacec in a license agreement for Wireless Electric Vehicle Charging (WEVC), where drivers can transfer power wirelessly using a resonant magnetic induction from a ground-based pad to a pad integrated in the vehicle.

Qualcomm has a pending patent application US 20110254377A1 on similar technology titled “Wireless power transmission in electric vehicles” that discloses bidirectional wireless power transfer using magnetic resonance between a charging base (CB) and a battery electric vehicle (BEV).

Wireless power transmission in electric vehicles

US 20110254377A1: Wireless power transmission in electric vehicles

With the ubiquitous use of portable smart devices and each day improvements in technology, it seems that new product ideas like resonant wireless charging – which is an advancement on inductive capabilities – will continue to increase the appeal of wireless charging for consumers. Now we can consider a world, where wireless power will be powering everyday life with the last cable unplugged in order to conveniently power and charge consumer electronics.

Featured image is for representational purpose alone and has been sourced from https://c1.staticflickr.com/6/5540/10728457974_1cdef88ab8_b.jpg

Shailesh Kandpal
Shailesh Kandpal

Shailesh's passion for new technologies in mobile communication, user interface and automobiles, and his expertise in patent analytics make his blog posts interesting reads.


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