These days it seems like wireless charging is the name of the game. Indeed, it seems that cutting the cord is the natural progression of things in a world that is increasingly mobile.
But according to Jacob Babcock, co-founder and CEO of high-efficiency antenna company NuCurrent, wireless charging capabilities should be viewed as more than just a novelty.
According to Babcock, NuCurrent has been developing wireless antennas for implants and medical devices since its creation in 2009. After developing a breakthrough high efficiency, low heat technology for medical devices, the company found itself perfectly positioned to jump into the consumer electronics market as demand for wireless charging became apparent in 2012.
“Turns out It’s a lot easier to transmit power through table and walls rather than human bodies,” Babcock said. “We’d already developed a breakthrough for medical devices but what that meant was we set a higher watermark in consumer electronics because we already had the highest efficiency antennas. It was very beneficial to consumer electronics side because where heating isn’t a life or death issue (in medical), that’s a very important issue in a cell phone because that impacts the performance of the phone and effects the battery longevity.”
Babcock said NuCurrent’s solutions are compatible with the standards set by the AirFuel Alliance and the Wireless Power Consortium, as well as the Alliance for Wireless Power and Power Matters Alliance.
In 2014, the company announced a wireless antenna technology for Gill Electronics’ TesLink Through Surface Transmitter, which allows consumers to attach a transmitter to the bottom of any non-metallic surface – including tables and counters – to enable wireless charging in that location.
But despite NuCurrent’s advancements, Babcock admittedly was skeptical of the necessity of wireless charging – that is, until he started using it.
“I wasn’t completely convinced that it was a game changer until I started using it myself,” Babcock said. “Sure it’s nice to have and important for phone companies in competition, but once I started using it, I understood. I have a transmitter in my kitchen, on my bedstand, in my office and in my car, plus Starbucks has (wireless charging capabilities), airports have them. So what that means to me is I very, very rarely get to the end of the day now where I have any battery anxiety.”
“It’s charging but I’m not thinking about it,” he explained. “It’s not an active decision anymore, that’s just where my phone sits.”
Babcock said, though, that wireless charging brings more to the table than just power.
In the long term, Babcock said wireless charging will open the door to new possibilities – like waterproofing – in both smartphones and wearables as the need for charging ports disappears.
As awareness and adoption continues to grow, Babcock said he believes wireless charging will also have environmental impacts in the form of fewer cords in the trash.
“Right now…you have this landfill issue,” Babcock said, noting cords not only come in the box alongside a device but are also sold as replacements in stores. “What’s going to end up happening in the future – three years from now when it’s everywhere – you’re not going to have to worry about bringing your own charger and companies won’t include cords with their product. So it’ll be liberating for consumers, but also from an environmental perspective.”
Babcock said the industry is rapidly moving in the right direction and consumers are following.
Device manufacturers like Samsung, LG, Motorola, Nokia and Blackberry, he said, all come with wireless charging capabilities baked in. Babcock said he expects Apple, which already has wireless charging capabilities for its Watch, will follow suit.
Additionally, carriers are increasingly requiring wireless charging capabilities in the specifications for new devices on their networks and major car companies are increasingly looking to incorporate the technology.
The effect, Babcock said, is that consumer awareness has skyrocketed over the past year. According to market research figures from IHS, awareness of wireless charging technologies leapt from 36 percent of consumers in 2014 to 76 percent of consumers in 2015.
Additionally, IHS forecasts that the one-millionth wireless charger will be installed in public infrastructure in 2016, providing another opportunity to boost the percentage of those who actually utilize wireless charging up from 20 percent.
The charge is out there.
Filed Under: Infrastructure