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Wireless Charging 101: Everything You Need to Know

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According to Juniper Research, almost 40 percent of U.S. households and over 20 percent of European households will adopt wireless charging by 2020. Their research report, “Wireless Charging: Opportunities, Applications & Standards 2015-2020,” finds that charging infrastructure will help raise awareness as technology rolls out to support wireless charging. That means we should be seeing more wireless charging ports in cafes, airports and restaurants among other gathering spots.

But what does wireless charging mean for today’s consumers? For one, the rapid adoption of wireless charging means less reliance on traditional charging ports, wires and outlets. It also means a wave of wireless enabled devices that can charge on the go. Here’s a look at how wireless charging works and what it means for you.

The Technology Isn’t New

Wireless charging has actually been around since 1891 when inventor Nikola Tesla demonstrated how power can be transmitted without the need for wires. The concept dazzled, but never really took off to any sort of practical application. Today’s technology works with inductive charging and involves two coils of wire. The charger induces a current in the wire to charge your device. Your phone doesn’t require a cable to connect to the charger, and instead sits on top of the port to get its charge.

How It Works

You need a device equipped with wireless charging technology and a compatible charger to work. For example, Samsung’s Galaxy S7 Edge houses the technology to charge wirelessly. Use Samsung’s charging pad and place your S7 on top of it to charge. The pad uses a wireless signal to draw its power and charge your phone. This type of technology and convenience also opens up the opportunity for wireless furniture. For example, IKEA released a line of built-in wireless charging pads and units for desks, side tables and lamps.

There Are Limitations

However, there are limitations to wireless charging. The technology itself is prone to working slower than traditional charging methods and can tack on extra time to get your device fully up and running. Not all devices come with wireless charging technology or require a specific charging pad to get its charge. Placing the device slightly askew on its charger can also result in a faulty charge. And to date, consumers also don’t have a universal wireless charger option for multiple devices.

The Future of Wireless Charging

Critics say wireless charging isn’t truly wireless because the power charger itself is plugged into a wall. However, the future of wireless charging means ditching the cords and relying on long range charging instead. ChargeSpot says the technology is under development and will be the holy grail of wireless. The idea is simple. Long range wireless charging will rely on technology like ultrasound or infrared light to bring an electrical charge to our devices without the need for ports and cords.

Wireless charging is also entering the mainstream. Car makers are including wireless charging systems in their vehicles to attract technology lovers. The Wall Street Journal reported that General Motors, Toyota and Fiat are all offering optional wireless charging capabilities. Starbucks and McDonald’s are also rolling out wireless charging in their stores to give customers what they really want: convenience, food and a place to charge up their devices before going about their day.

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