You must have seen them by now. They’re everywhere! from internet articles to YouTube videos and even news segments.
Of course, I’m talking about wireless chargers. A gift from the heavens in the shape of a small pad. It can charge your gadgets without the need to plug them in using a tangled wire.
Companies like Samsung, LG, Google, and Apple now create their devices with the wireless charging mechanism embedded in their casing. At the same time, tech enthusiasts celebrate it as the beginning of a new era.
Many smaller companies started following suit. And now, you can buy a wireless charger anywhere from $15 to $100+ depending on how much you’re willing to splurge.
Wireless chargers use Electromagnetic Induction. You might be familiar with this term from way back in school. In simple words, it’s the production of electricity in a conductor as it moves through a magnetic field. So, you can transfer energy through the air via magnet, without the need for a direct link.
The project was studied heavily in the 18th century by two of the biggest names in physics, Micheal Faraday and Nikola Tesla.
While this might sound like new and groundbreaking tech. The first wireless charger came out way back in 2009. Many of you might be familiar with Palm Touchstone Wireless Charging Dock.
Now, you might be thinking: Oh wow, Ten years ago! The technology must’ve come a long way since then!
Expect it didn’t. To understand why we need to take a deeper look at how this technology works.
For Electromagnetic Induction to work, you need three main elements. A transmitter (induction) coil inside the charger, a receiver coil inside the phone, or in the phone case, and a power source to kickstart the induction.
The thing is, the two coils in the charging pad and the device need to line up just right for it to work. So, if you don’t place your gadget precisely where it needs to be, or it slips a millimeter to the side, it stops charging.
Also, the charging pad itself needs to be connected using a wire. So, instead of plugging your phone, you’re only doing it an inch or two away. (Which beats the whole point!)
The restrictive nature of wireless charging makes it impossible to check your phone while it’s charging. Meaning you can’t text, answer calls, or even scroll aimlessly through Instagram!
Not to mention, charging with induction is not energy efficient. A lot of energy is wasted without reaching the phone. skyrocketing your electricity bill, and you definitely don’t want that!
While charging cables can reach up to 12 watts with fast charging, the average wireless charger is between 5 and 7 watts. The smaller the number, the longer it’ll take to charge your device.
Now that it’s been 10 years, you might think that we’ve reached a solution to several issues by now. Well… yes and no.
In 2017 Apple announced AirPower, a small pad where you can charge up to three devices. Promising to work no matter where you put your gadgets as long as they’re on the pad.
Problem solved? technically not.
Apple tried to solve this inconvenience by integrating several induction coils in its charging pad. so that your devices connect no matter where you put them. Great?
The problem is that stacking a lot of coils together can result in interference in the induction and overheating. (Which is a safety hazard by itself!)
So, it was never released and was announced dead in the hearts of many tech enthusiasts.
Other companies like Pi, Energous, Powercast, and Ossia are in the process of developing actual wireless chargers. Ones that charge your devices when you’re a certain distance from the power transmitter.
Unlike the now readily-available wireless chargers. These future ones promise to charge your phone wirelessly wherever it is, even if it’s on the move. But until this point, none of the companies released their product, and it’s all still talk and advertisement for a future that might never come.
So, until affordable and convenient wireless chargers are released into the market. It’s safe to say that using high-quality cables to charge your devices is your best option.