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The Future Of Wireless Charging

By David Ponce

[ Energizer sponsored OhGizmo! to attend CES 2012. Opinions are my own. -Ed. ]

A fundamental shift in the way we recharge our mobile devices is underway and most of us aren’t really aware of it. But over the last few years, wireless charging technology has been making huge strides and it’s now reaching the point where it might become ubiquitous. Here’s what you need to know.

Much like Bluetooth or Wi-Fi are standard transmission protocols that allow connected devices from any manufacturers who use the technology to communicate with one another, there is now a new transmission protocol for wireless inductive charging called Qi (pronounced “chee”) which allows consumers to conveniently power smartphones and other devices today and in the future, regardless of manufacturer. It’s being curated by the Wireless Power Consortium, a conglomerate of more than100 companies of which Energizer was one of the early members.

With the launch of the dual zone Energizer Inductive Charger, Energizer launched into the world of Qi and wireless inductive charging, allowing consumers easy, convenient, cord-free charging for any Qi-enabled device. Following the introduction of the first ever suite of Qi products, Energizer has since expanded the line with Qi sleeves for the most popular smart phones, including the iPhone®4, and developed a single zone version of the inductive charger for those interested in having an extra charging pad in their office or on a bedside table.

And what’s really exciting is that we’re now starting to get past the early days of the technology, where external cases needed to be retrofitted over mobile devices to enable them to be charged without wires. Manufacturers are now starting to integrate Qi chips right at the OEM level into phone battery or battery door so that the phone you buy, for example, is the phone you charge inductively, no need for extra accessories. Some examples include the Samsung DROID Charge, the HTC Thunderbolt and the DROID 3 by Motorola to name a few. Check out www.wirelesspowerconsortium.com to see all the different Qi products that were shown at CES.

At CES I was also able to see devices being charged without wires through regular surfaces with no apparent charge pad built in. There was a see-through purse with a cellphone inside which started charging just as the entire bag was put down on a charge pad (pictured above). And cellphones charging through wooden tabletops with no visible pads. There even was a car’s center console that features two chargepads where you can simply lay down your phone (as you probably do now) and have it charge at the same time (pictured below). The possibilities are really interesting. The future will be seamless and more importantly, wire-free. And it’s not too far off, though of course there’s going to be a transition phase. For now, many devices that are not Qi-enabled can still take advantage of the benefits of inductive charging and the Energizer Inductive Charger with sleeves or doors from Energizer and others that will make compatibility sleeves and doors.