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Communications of the ACM

ACM TechNews

Wireless Charging: Adaptor Die

WildCharge wireless charging pad


A movement is underway to eliminate power cables from consumer mobile devices by using wireless recharging. However, while the technology may be sound, a profitable business model remains elusive. Developments that may help convince manufacturers to incorporate wireless charging modules into their devices include the organization of the Wireless Power Consortium, a group committed to establishing a common inductive wireless charging standard.

Consortium chairman Menno Treffers admits that greater collaboration is needed to guarantee that different devices can share the same charging gear. Notable products include Palm's Pre smart phone, which features an optional charging pad that charges the handset wirelessly via electromagnetic induction. Startup WildCharge has developed wireless-charging devices with which mobile devices make electrical contact with a special charging pad via four small conductive metal studs (pictured). Also under development are other domestic applications such as the wireless operation of household appliances by incorporating charging pads into kitchen counters.

Last November, Texas Instruments announced a partnership with Fulton Innovations "to accelerate development of efficient wireless power solutions" by investigating the manufacture of integrated circuits that support Fulton's technology in order to shrink the cost and size of the components needed for wireless charging as well as ease their rapid incorporation into products. Among alternative technologies being developed and marketed is a pad designed to charge mobile devices that interface with it using four conductive metal studs. Power beamed to devices via lasers is another method being explored, although it faces regulatory challenges.

From Economist Technology Quarterly
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