The analyst firm forecasts that by 2018, annual shipments of wireless charging receiver units will have reached the 1 billion mark (translating into a total market value $8.5 billion).
Wireless charging has the potential to make radical changes to how we use our portable electronics equipment (such as smartphones, tablet computers, etc.), allowing us to combat the drain that increased usage is having on battery resources.
Through this technology it will be possible to replenish the batteries of such devices, thereby avoiding the need for users to seek out power points and carry numerous different cables. Accessing the wireless charging points at various locations (in coffee shops, retail outlets, hotel lobbies, public spaces and suchlike) will make it possible to top up during the course of the day.
As Ryan points out, though wireless charging emerged into the mobile device scene a few years ago it is only now that it is starting to see serious uptake. The landscape has changed quite significantly over that time. The vast majority of initial wireless charging equipment was accessory based. The consumer had to buy a wireless charger, plus some sort of enabling hardware (either a dongle, case, or sleeve) to add to this in order to make the portable device compatible with the charger.
This presented a significant upfront investment and meant the prospect of wireless charging was less attractive since the benefit was outweighed by the costs involved. The technology has subsequently progressed, with manufacturers miniaturizing the receiver element, allowing its incorporation directly into portable devices. Although this obstacle has been overcome, there are others that still need addressing. One of the most notable of these is the need to roll out a greater number of charging points. Another, in Ryan’s opinion, is the multitude of standards currently in place, though the hope is that a dominant standard will soon start to establish itself.
There are a number of other advances in wireless charging that he envisages will emerge over the next few years. Though the solutions implemented so far have relied on closely coupled induction, next generation wireless charging infrastructure will be less spatially restrictive. This will mean that alignment won’t have to be so exact and charging will not be interrupted should the transmitter and receiver be poorly positioned in relation to one another or slip apart during the charging process. This echoes Toshiba’s views on the way the wireless charging industry is likely to develop.
We are focussing a large proportion of our engineering effort into the support of free-positioning wireless charging systems where coil bundles will be employed - thus offering greater flexibility when it comes to device positioning.