Inductive charging – That wireless dream

Inductive charging   That wireless dream

This is a topic that is close to my heart and with the announcement of the latest round of Lumia devices having this capability it’s back in the limelight! I wanted to just share my thoughts on a technology that isn’t really very new at all.


I suppose the story sort of starts with the old Crystal Radios back as far as 1901! They used the same radio signals used to carry the information to induce a small current on the electronics to power the device. Clever! In the early 1990s it became more popular with Oral-B using the technology to charge their toothbrushes. It wasn’t until Palm bought the tech to the Pre in January 2009 that it came to the mainstream mobile phone market. In my real life job I get to work with someone who used to develop new technologies with BT, we started talking about ‘wireless charging’ yesterday and he mentioned they played with that in phones in the early 00s. He told me that had started to create smart furniture that could charge their phones, so all you had to do was put your phone down on the desk and it started to charge, why doesn’t all furniture do this??

The main reason for the slow adoption is the lack of a wireless charging standard, no one shares exactly how to get it done and no one is pushing the technology forward. As such it is expensive to develop and currently an inefficient way of charging. In 2006 though Massachusetts Institute of Technology developed a method that could charge a device from a few meters away, bringing the tech back into the interest of engineers. Come 2009 (after Palm announced the Pre) a group of people got together to start work on a wireless charging standard to help commercialise the idea, thus Qi was born. Intel and Samsung have announced they plan to release products to charge phones and laptops using this standard and it’s the same standard that Nokia are using today in the 820 and the 920.

So now you know a little more about the history, the inner workings is an article for another day. The reason I wanted to raise it is because of how much I have been discussing it with people recently. Ever since I got this iMac that I have to use at work I have wished that the base had an induction pad on it to charge my devices, it would be perfect. It’s is a large flat surface that I tend to always put my phone on anyway! The new HP Spectre One has a similar area to charge a device.

So what do you think? Do you long for wireless charging? What applications can you think of? Sound off in the comments below.

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  • Wireless charging would be a nice thing, as it’s ‘new’ I think we’ll have to wait for Apple to impliment and patent it before anybody realises it is a good thing!
    Did I read that Starbucks are going to have charging pads in their coffee shops? A good step, until the pads are numerous there will not be a huge pick up.
    If my phone did it then I would have the pad at home but at work I’d have to plug it in. I’m guessing a second micro usb lead is a damn sight cheaper than a charging pad?

    • Yeah that’s the problem. Hence the standard being a good thing. There well quickly be lots of pads that are compatible with lots of phones soon. Well maybe not ‘soon’, but you know what I mean.