If you are familiar with the major strides that wireless charging has made over these past few years, you will undoubtedly be asking yourself if it can get any better; and if yes, then when? As things stand, the technology still suffers from certain limitations, both in regards to practical application and a few design-related issues.
One thing’s for certain, though, wireless charging has come an impressively long way since its inception and it shows no signs of stopping anytime soon. With that in mind,the questions we raise about long distance wireless charging and its full potential have to center around how long can we realistically expect the charging to be.
For some people, a ‘long’ distance wireless charger should be able to reach devices a few meters away. Others want nothing more than a reliable wireless charger that won’t disengage when the phone is moved slightly atop the charging pad for whatever reason.
If we are to infer a realistic expectation from the technology based on what we’ve seen so far, we can safely assume that both can be expected by the end of next decade at the latest.
Current standards and applications
Although we are still a bit far from wireless chargers that can deliver their charge from across the room, what we see when observing market trends really gets our hopes up. For instance, when they first hit the market about a decade ago, wireless chargers could only accommodate a handful of devices and those devices had to be in direct contact with the charging pad.
Nowadays, however, you can safely install chargers underneath furniture (albeit thin and conductive) and safely recharge your Qi-ready devices at a reasonable distance. This distance is still only a few centimeters long, but it’s still better than using a glorified wall plug with marginal wireless features.
When we talk about a ‘long’ range wireless charger right now, we refer to a charging station/pad that can penetrate thin tabletops and deliver its charge at a reasonable speed. The speed can vary, of course, depending on the charger’s strength and the device’s receptivity, but even so, it is still a lot better than what previous iterations had to offer.
Another great feature that decent wireless chargers offer is versatility with respect to the number of devices they can accommodate. You can more or lessexpect a reasonable long distance wireless charging standard from a variety of chargers provided that your devices incorporate the latest inductive Qi battery features.
The sheer number of Qi-ready devices is impressive as well, going from just a handful to literally hundreds in just a decade or so. And it isn’t just smartphones and tablets that use the feature either. In fact, more and more household appliances and office accessories use Qi charging, ranging from office appliances to grooming devices and accessories.
There are quite a few ongoing projects to keep an eye on if we’re talking about innovative technologies applied to wireless charging. Some of these projects focus on stabilizing inductive charge parameters so that batteries no longer heat up when recharging, while others focus on improving range and reliability.
- Focused beams –This project focuses on employing focused beams of invisible infrared light to carry power from a transmitter to a receiver embedded into a receptive device. Unlike Qi charging, this has the potential to reach devices at a much longer distance, because it focuses on converting light to electrical power using compact photo-voltaic cells. This type of technology is still in its inceptive stages and can rarely go above 10 Watts at the moment, but it is expected to match Qi standards by the end of the decade.
- Wide wave beams –Similar to focused beams, this technology also focuses on long-range light emissions, but in a more targeted pattern. With a base station to transmit power, the narrow-wide wave beams send the charge at a speed of around 5 Watts, which isn’t exactly groundbreaking seeing how most wireless chargers surpass that speed toward the high-end of the price spectrum. One positive thing to point out about this particular technology is that it can reach 100 cm or more.
- Wireless air charging –Introduced by a Chinese research lab in early 2021, this technology uses a base station that operates a principle similar to Qi charging but one that is supposed to target the charging beam more fluidly. This means that it can cover a wider target area, allowing the device to change position during the charging process. So far, few updates have been released explaining the specifics so, for the time being, we can only speculate about its practical applications.
What does the future have in store?
It goes without saying thatlong distance wireless charging has come a long way over the years and that it has a tremendous potential it has yet to reach. By most standards, the technology is already on par with early wired chargers and even though it isn’t as fast as high-end wired chargers, it is still operational and practical enough to warrant an investment.
Given the ongoing developments of wireless charging as a whole, the industry is far from reaching its projected goals. We can expect it to keep on growing provided that no competing technologies emerge anytime soon. Seeing how the wireless technologies we talked about are still in their early stages, we can safely assume that Qi charging is here to stay.
So if you are yet to acquire a Qi charger or if you’re still having concerns about the practical applications, rest assured that it is as good of an investment as you can expect.
Not just that but the acquisition price for most wireless chargers is still fairly low, at least compared to how pricey early wireless chargers were when they first hit the market more than a decade ago.
Realistically speaking, we are still a few years away from wireless charging reaching its full potential, but this doesn’t mean that buying a long-range wireless charger shouldn’t be seen as a good investment.