Induction charging was first introduced by Nikola Tesla in 1891 and yet it took over a century for this technology to find its way into mainstream consumer use.
Wireless charging has emerged in the past few years in the form of smartphones and smartphone accessories and is now being integrated into all sorts of technological devices, appliances, public spaces and vehicles. All of this because companies are looking forward to make power cords obsolete and make the envisioned world of Tesla a reality.
Until now, wireless charging often meant coupling the device to some sort of physical dock, many of you have probably experienced this by using an electric toothbrush or shaver.
There are loads of benefits regarding wireless charging when it comes to the consumer.
The most obvious one is the absence of power cords that are easily tangled, broken, lost and once in a while even make you trip. The goal is to provide the consumers with the ability to utilize one wireless charging dock that is compatible with all the device they already own as well as the ones they might buy.
In order to hit this goal the industry has been trying to establish organizations to standardize wireless charging technologies. At this point in time there are three: WPC (Wireless Power Consortium, that has a Qi standard), the PMA (Power Matters Alliance) and the A4WP (Alliance for Wireless Power) and Samsung is a member of all these groups.
Although you may not be aware, these technologies have been implemented across a broad spectrum of your everyday life. Wireless charging pads powered by the Qi standards can be seen at some McDonald’s locations in London and many Starbucks locations in the US sport PMA powered charging stations.
The PMA and A4WP announced that they would join forces this January in order to offer better wireless charging features for a variety of devices. This means that restaurants, airports, public spaces, vehicles and living spaces will free consumers from the burden of carrying their power cords, they will be able to move freely without the worry of running out of battery.
In order to keep up with this design for the future Samsung created a special team designed exclusively to focus on wireless charging, back in late 2000 and began extensive research and development. And as is usual with R&D they found several obstacles that had to be overcome for wireless charging technology to succeed in the market, the ones that stood out more were the size and price of the most crucial components.
The hard work of Samsung’s R&D team came to life in 2011 when they introduced their first commercial wireless charging pad for Droid Charge (SCH-i510) in the US.
Since then they have been providing wireless charging covers and pads as a core accessory for many of their flagships, such as the Galaxy S4 and the Note 3 in 2013 and both of their successors in 2014, the Galaxy S5 and Note 4.
They found out how to make the cost of materials more manageable by partnering with the raw material suppliers and component companies. They also discovered new ways to merge and combine components in more efficient ways, allowing the chargers to generate more power and occupy less space.
The first Galaxy S4 charging pads had about 80 different components but for the Galaxy S5 the developers were able to tone that down to 50 which is much more manageable, of course that is not enough and efforts are being made to reduce that number even further. Their unique ability to combine parts and utilize components that are capable of handling more than one function is what allowed commercialization to become a reality.
There is also focus on making the components smaller and thinner, for example the IC chip in the Note 4 is only 0.8mm thin. There has been a drastic change in this department since the first introduction of these components, the wireless charging receiver components decreased to a tenth of their original size and the thickness of the coil to a third of its original size and this allowed to cut the costs of the main component to a tenth of the prince in just ten years.
There was a big change regarding the charging speed as well, three years ago wireless charging was only 20/30% faster than wired charging and now they have been able to double the charging speed.
In 2014 components that support multiple standards on a single chip were released and it is expected that consumers will be able to buy these products this year, as it usually takes 6 to 12 months to integrate the new components and send them out to the market.
It is expected that 2015 will be a landmark year regarding the growth of wireless charging deployment, stations will begin to appear in more and more public places and Samsung will accompany this by releasing wireless charging technology with compelling smartphones.
This is only possible as not only IT companies but also leading brands from a wide range of industries such as semiconductors, mobile services, furniture, software and others have joined the effort and are actively working together.