For us to even begin discussing the challenges that ranged wireless charging technologies face right now, we would first need to understand why they are popular in the first place. As the sophistication of portable consumer electronic goods increases, the functionality of these devices improves as well.
While it used to be that phone batteries would only last for a few hours and required a lot of time to recharge, nowadays the process is a lot faster and the batteries are substantially better. We these days witnessthe rise of ranged wireless charging as a valid alternative to traditional chargers, but more as a phenomenon because the technology still has a long way to go.
As we are about to find out, this is owed to the increasing need for larger batteries and thus, the methods of recharging said batteries in a quick and efficient manner. It’s not that traditional chargers cannot do the job, but they are severely limited by their dependence on wires, ports, and adapters.
Because of the wide array of applications that we can nowadays run on our phones and tablets, the time between recharges has shortened significantly over the years. This means that our phones require constant recharging whether we like it or not. By traditional means, this required us to put away our devices and wait patiently while they recharge for 30-40 minutes or more.
The advent of wireless chargers has more or less revolutionized the way handheld smart devices are used. Not only can people operate their devices while they recharge without having to deal with all the annoying wires all the time, but they are no longer bound by proprietary chargers that only work with specific devices.
One size fits all
It seems that mobile phones have always been dependent on their designated chargers, including the ports and adapters people sometimes employ to make them work. The wireless charging infrastructure, on the other hand, no longer relies on ports and wires, allowing one wireless charger to accommodate a variety of different devices.
This, however, comes with specific challenges with respect to how different devices are built by their manufacturers. It should be obvious that reputable manufacturers equip their devices with powerful batteries and with components that demand more power to operate. This means that any charger a user employs for their charging needs must abide by the device’s specifications.
So I guess it could be said that ranged wireless charging varies in efficiency depending on how the devices are built and their technical specifications. On top of all that, know that different devices charge at different speeds by virtue of their battery performance, their capacity to process inductive waves, and the construction of their casings.
Through all this, it becomes apparent that wireless chargers can handle a range of different devices but they won’t all charge at the same speed. This is still better than the old way of having to ask around for a charger that would fit your device’s charging needs. More often than not people would have no choice but to shut off their phones until they got back home and were finally able to recharge them.
Although most wireless charging standards employ ‘handshaking’ functions that automatically detect compatible handheld devices before initiating charging, the polling sequence that precedes this uses a large amount of energy. So if you’re phone is not fully compatible with the wireless charger you’re connecting it to, you might see the battery go down rather fast at the beginning of the charging process.
Because of this alongside a few other similar subsystems, wireless charging cannot be fully integrated into certain environments. For instance, some car manufacturers want to build wireless charging stations into their cars’ dashboards. This might prove quite the challenge as they struggle to also limit RF emissions inside the vehicle.
Not many people know this but your average car is a hotspot for all kinds of electromagnetic waves, including radio waves, WiFi hotspots, phone signals, and all the electromagnetic interference intrinsic to modern vehicles. So a good way around this would be to somehow employ NFC to target inductive charging in an accurate fashion.
The same problem that vehicles have is present in modern office environments where multiple handheld devices generate a wide array of waves and signals. These signals can greatly alter a wireless charger’s long-range effectiveness and may even potentially damage the devices themselves through constant exposure.
The silver lining
Despite the many limitations wireless charging faces at this point in time, the future offers a lot of hope in regards to not only the reliability of this technology but for its practical applications as well. Let us take the idea that NFC could bypass most of these limitations and roll with it just for the sake of argument.
It doesn’t take a tech-savvy genius to see how NFC is quickly becoming indispensable for mobile devices everywhere. We aren’t just talking about theway ranged wireless charging can benefit from NFC integration but a whole spectrum of applications ranging from connecting to controlling other devices.
For instance, this technology can be used to identify the user and pair the mobile device to a third-party source or media center, and also to access and control the many different devices it can connect to. While all of this looks impressive on paper, the actual integration process may take a few years to fully figure out.
Seeing how versatile and multifunctional NFC can be when applied to almost any wireless-related problem, it becomes apparent that it will also help boost wireless charging efforts one way or another. Speaking of which, NFC also offers a low-power RF that can be kept running throughout the day to detect if any Qi-ready device or charging station is in near proximity.
It is clear to see how this might one day be used to offer a more fluid integration of Qi-ready devices into stand-alone wireless charging stations and even charge them on the go. Such technology will surely prove immensely useful for vehicles and office environments in which people might not have the time to look around for charging pads.