Not long ago it seemed that we wondered why we would need some particular technological gadget. Whether it was a smartphone, dumbphone, tablet, cheap laptop computer, ebook reader, mp3 player, or digital camera (just to name a few) - it really seemed that the things that we once lived without just fine only a few short years ago, we can't seem to live without now. While they are great to have, it becomes painfully clear very quickly that all these electronic gadgets and gizmos need their power!
Pretty soon you find yourself a plethora of cords in various shapes and sizes just to keep their batteries juiced up and ready to roll! On a recent trip, I had to take along NINE different power cords just to keep the cameras, phones and games going.
There simply has to be a better way to go – and in this Tech Tip, we’ll show you the wave of today and look at various ways to recharge your electronic devices wirelessly.
By “wirelessly” we mean being able to charge your device either via a solar solution or by an inductive charging mat. Some kind of cord is technically (for the time being) still involved at some stage in the process.
First, let’s look at inductive charging.
While it’s been around for a long time, inductive charging, up until not too long ago, remained in the province of shavers and toothbrushes when you talked small consumer electronics. But that is so Twentieth Century! Cool devices such as the Powermat inductive charger used with the Palm phone a couple of years ago really pointed to the future of, as well as piqued interest in, wireless battery charging. Welcome to the Twenty-first Century!
While many individual manufacturers have their individual solutions, what is really needed is a universal standard to charge products wirelessly. That is where the group called the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC) comes to the forefront with its new standard known as Qi (pronounced Chee). This new universal standard is, as of now, appearing in charging pads introduced by Energizer and Verizon – with many other companies soon to follow. What this means is that using a Qi compatible charging pad with a Qi compatible device gives you the ability to “cut the cord. ” For instance, using the Energizer pad, you can use it to charge your Verizon HTC Thunderbolt (when you purchase the Qi compatible battery cover – available now (but not online) as well as your Apple iPhone 4 (when you purchase the Qi compatible sleeve – available now). But it doesn’t stop there, soon there will be not just phones, but other devices hitting the market that are Qi compatible.
So, if you have a new smartphone or the device that has a special battery cover (or phone sleeve) that is Qi compatible, you can jump on the bandwagon right now. Today it's starting small with small low voltage devices, but expect to see in the future Qi-compatible laptop computers, household appliances and other battery operated electronics jump on the wireless charging bandwagon. There are some competing wireless technologies also being developed, but truthfully, the Qi standard has the head start as of today. Really this is only the beginning of the soon-to-be realized wireless charging future.
Don't have a Qi compatible device just yet? If your device can be charged via a computer’s USB port, then why not look into a small portable solar charger as a way to “cut the cord” - in this case, the cord to the AC outlet. Many companies offer reasonably priced panels that are an efficient way to charge your device (such as the Kodak KS100-C+2 Solar Charger; the Artic Cooling C1 Solar Charger; or even no-name generic solar chargers, just to name a few). These tend to have relatively low amperage output, so they are usually ideal for items such as music players, phones and digital cameras (and will also usually take longer to reach full charge – but most also have a built in battery that is constantly charging to help things along). Even with this seeming drawback, they are super convenient as you can take them anywhere there is sunlight.
Of course, the ultimate in true wireless charging will be when we see inductive charging mats incorporated with solar panels (such as Panasonic's Solar Charging Table – not yet for sale). Truthfully though, all we need to do is look around and see that the wireless charging future is here now, and that we truly can get tomorrow’s technology today with either a Qi charger+device or with a solar charger!
So hop on the bandwagon and CUT THE CORD with wireless charging today!