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Cutting the Power Cable: How Advantageous Is Wireless Charging?

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the very-advantageous-for-the-lazy dept.

Power 284

Lucas123 writes "Furniture and auto makers are already ramping up production of wireless charging for mobile devices that will also allow I/O for music and data synchronization. Thanks to the widely accepted Qi standard, there shouldn't be a problem with interoperability, but how advantageous is wireless charging? Would it really offer more charging opportunities for mobile users in coffee shops who are today hamstrung by how many outlets are available? And then there's the added cost and reduced efficiency. As wireless systems are more complicated, a wireless battery charger will be more expensive and there are resistive losses on the coil, stray coupling, etc."

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284 comments

It will have a certain cool factor at first (2, Insightful)

crazyjj (2598719) | about a year and a half ago | (#41303959)

"Come to our hip coffee shop and charge wirelessly!" will attract a certain trendy crowd at first (maybe enough to justify the new furniture/equipment). But, in practice, it won't be much different than offering USB ports/outlets/ethernet ports/wireless service/etc. that a lot of places already offer. There are already a million places to connect and recharge in the big city. Aside from the initial cool factor, this one is no different. Things move so fast these days, it doesn't take very long for cool tech to turn into "so what?"

I just hope no one spills their coffee on the expensive new charging table.

Re:It will have a certain cool factor at first (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41304043)

"I just hope no one spills their coffee on the expensive new charging table."

It'll be waterproof. Nice feature. My electric toothbrush has had this for years.

Re:It will have a certain cool factor at first (1, Funny)

wbr1 (2538558) | about a year and a half ago | (#41304669)

But is is coffee proof? Have you dunked your toothbrush in starbucks swill or a triple shot espresso? Tht may burn thrpung seals and gaskets.

Re:It will have a certain cool factor at first (2)

phozz bare (720522) | about a year and a half ago | (#41304809)

Apparently you coffee test all the electronics in your house before use.

Re:It will have a certain cool factor at first (5, Funny)

bkaul01 (619795) | about a year and a half ago | (#41304919)

Apparently you coffee test all the electronics in your house before use.

Clearly his keyboard failed the test:

But is is coffee proof? ... Tht may burn thrpung seals and gaskets.

Re:It will have a certain cool factor at first (3, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | about a year and a half ago | (#41304217)

I agree, its only value is the "coolness" factor (which only matters to those under 30). It won't be a real benefit unless it gets good enough that you can charge your phone without taking it out of your pocket. Plugging it in is no bigger a deal than laying it on a charging pad. If I could have a wireless charger that would charge it from across my living room, that would be great; I'd buy one. But to have to put it on a mat, using more electricity than if I plugged it in? No thanks.

Re:It will have a certain cool factor at first (4, Insightful)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | about a year and a half ago | (#41304317)

I agree, its only value is the "coolness" factor (which only matters to those under 30). It won't be a real benefit unless it gets good enough that you can charge your phone without taking it out of your pocket. Plugging it in is no bigger a deal than laying it on a charging pad. If I could have a wireless charger that would charge it from across my living room, that would be great; I'd buy one. But to have to put it on a mat, using more electricity than if I plugged it in? No thanks.

If you eliminate the need for a power connector, it would be pretty simple to start producing smartphones and other devices that are waterproof themselves. That would be a nice improvement. My last smartphone met with a watery grave. I see it as just a gimmick to add this onto an existing device, but for new devices designed around this it would be useful.

Re:It will have a certain cool factor at first (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | about a year and a half ago | (#41304413)

If you eliminate the need for a power connector, it would be pretty simple to start producing smartphones and other devices that are waterproof themselves.

If you can waterproof the ubiquitous USB connection, then you can also waterproof any power connection, so wireless charging really adds nothing to the waterproofability of a device.

Re:It will have a certain cool factor at first (3, Insightful)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year and a half ago | (#41305025)

If you can waterproof the ubiquitous USB connection

Right. So, can you? Because if you can't, it renders the rest of your statement moot.

Re:It will have a certain cool factor at first (0)

Cinder6 (894572) | about a year and a half ago | (#41304445)

If you eliminate the need for a power connector, it would be pretty simple to start producing smartphones and other devices that are waterproof themselves. That would be a nice improvement.

Charging cables double as data cables. How would people react if you got rid of data cables entirely? Wireless syncing is nice, but I find I usually go for the cable. It's faster and has less chance of error, plus no drain on the phone's battery.

Re:It will have a certain cool factor at first (2)

oji-sama (1151023) | about a year and a half ago | (#41304761)

Charging cables double as data cables. How would people react if you got rid of data cables entirely? Wireless syncing is nice, but I find I usually go for the cable. It's faster and has less chance of error, plus no drain on the phone's battery.

If the phone does the wireless syncing on the wireless charging pad there probably won't be much of drain on the phone's battery :)

I currently sync my phone and laptop via bluetooth without errors. Although I do use cable sometimes if I am in hurry or low on battery, so speed may be an issue. (But well, the cable option isn't actually disappearing yet...)

Re:It will have a certain cool factor at first (1)

Radres (776901) | about a year and a half ago | (#41304765)

I would think that you would get wireless charging with the wireless sync, so it's pointless to worry about the drain on the phone's battery.

Re:It will have a certain cool factor at first (2)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year and a half ago | (#41304837)

If you eliminate the need for a power connector, it would be pretty simple to start producing smartphones and other devices that are waterproof themselves. That would be a nice improvement.

Charging cables double as data cables. How would people react if you got rid of data cables entirely? Wireless syncing is nice, but I find I usually go for the cable. It's faster and has less chance of error, plus no drain on the phone's battery.

I didn't know people still used data cables for syncing with modern phones - I have a Galaxy Nexus and the only thing I've used the USB port for is charging. Everything else goes over Wifi or Bluetooth so I wouldn't miss it at all if the USB port went away and was replaced by wireless charging,

Re:It will have a certain cool factor at first (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41305149)

If you eliminate the need for a power connector, it would be pretty simple to start producing smartphones and other devices that are waterproof themselves. That would be a nice improvement.

Charging cables double as data cables. How would people react if you got rid of data cables entirely? Wireless syncing is nice, but I find I usually go for the cable. It's faster and has less chance of error, plus no drain on the phone's battery.

I didn't know people still used data cables for syncing with modern phones - I have a Galaxy Nexus and the only thing I've used the USB port for is charging. Everything else goes over Wifi or Bluetooth so I wouldn't miss it at all if the USB port went away and was replaced by wireless charging,

For Android toys like the Nexus a Wifi/BT Connection is fast enough, but for professional use i prefer a fast reliable wired connection.

Re:It will have a certain cool factor at first (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41304687)

you eliminate the need for a power connector, it would be pretty simple to start producing smartphones and other devices that are waterproof themselves. That would be a nice improvement. My last smartphone met with a watery grave. I see it as just a gimmick to add this onto an existing device, but for new devices designed around this it would be useful.

If you can eliminate the need for a power connector, and make wireless power ubiquitous enough, we can also eliminate the battery.

Re:It will have a certain cool factor at first (1)

rgbatduke (1231380) | about a year and a half ago | (#41305001)

A very few smartphone manufacturers are making phones already that are shockproof and waterproof. My Casio, for example, is supposed to survive 30 minutes one meter underwater or being dropped a couple of meters onto concrete. All it takes is sealed caps on the ports (although I don't plan to TEST my Casio until I do it accidentally:-). My wife's iPhone, OTOH, was fried by a single lousy drop of water in its enormously wide and entirely nonstandard (well, except for Apple's own "standards") charging/playing port. Which voids the warranty (and of course trips a little colored switch so that they know you voided the warranty and all service plans) which then means you can drop a few hundred more getting a replacement even if you have insurance. So much for Apple's "superior" engineering...

Personally, I hate all of the charging ports. They suck. Micro and regular USB arguably suck the least -- at least they are open standards and one charger or USB cable works for all devices more or less. But they still die (unless sealed when not in use) with as little as a single drop of water. The cost of one phone is far, far greater than the cost of wasted power over the lifetime of ten phones, I would guestimate. But still, why can't anyone seem to engineer an unbreakable, waterproof charging port? How hard can it be?

rgb

Re:It will have a certain cool factor at first (1)

the_Bionic_lemming (446569) | about a year and a half ago | (#41305095)

Motorola Quantico.

USB charging, and can be left in water for half an hour with no ill effects.

I know that's no good to everyone but me, but I just need a phone - one that won't be destroyed when I'm riding my Motorcycle in an unexpected downpour.

Re:It will have a certain cool factor at first (5, Interesting)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about a year and a half ago | (#41304369)

Plugging it in is no bigger a deal than laying it on a charging pad.

I bought one of those firesale HP touchpads. They have wireless charging with a special stand and it is the single best feature of the device. Plugging in to charge sucks - there is wear-and-tear on the mini-usb port, the fiddling to get everything lined up requires good lighting and too much time. With the wireless charging stand, it is dead simple - just put it on the stand, listen for the "bonk" sound the OS makes when charging starts and everything just works. It is so much more convenient that wireless charging is now mandatory for any of my future phone and tablet purchases.

Re:It will have a certain cool factor at first (1)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | about a year and a half ago | (#41304949)

I bought one of those firesale HP touchpads. They have wireless charging with a special stand and it is the single best feature of the device. Plugging in to charge sucks - there is wear-and-tear on the mini-usb port, the fiddling to get everything lined up requires good lighting and too much time. With the wireless charging stand, it is dead simple - just put it on the stand, listen for the "bonk" sound the OS makes when charging starts and everything just works. It is so much more convenient that wireless charging is now mandatory for any of my future phone and tablet purchases.

I'll agree with you on the wear and tear. I've had that issue with several devices. But either the touchpad is piss poorly designed, or you must be extremely blind and clumsy. It's a micro USB connector. What is there to "line up"? It goes in one way, and one way only (without a hammer). I have the same connector on my phone. It takes me all of one second to plug it in, if that. I can't say I've tried to plug it in in total darkness, but where I generally charge it, there is nowhere near what I would consider good lighting. Certainly not enough to read by. I'd probably use wireless charging if my phone came with it, but I'm not interested in paying extra for something that a cable I already have does just fine.

Re:It will have a certain cool factor at first (1)

havana9 (101033) | about a year and a half ago | (#41305195)

Older phones had more rugged connectors. I've a DECT cordless phone that has two metallic plates that make contact with two spring-mounted electrode, put in the cradle, the weight of the handset is sufficent to slide the phone in the contacts. The same method is used on two way radios, where it's a necessity due the higher charge current used. Unfortunately with current smartphones, the space required for a rugged connector is too big to blend in thei sllek design, so weak connectors are used, that could fail easily.

Re:It will have a certain cool factor at first (4, Insightful)

heypete (60671) | about a year and a half ago | (#41304409)

I dunno, I have a ruggedized Samsung mobile phone. It's waterproof to 1 meter, dustproof, vibration resistant, etc. The microphone and speaker are behind impermeable membranes while the battery compartment and microUSB charging port are behind separate gasketed panels.

Every time I open the charging panel I put wear and tear on the gasket material. If I could wirelessly charge it then I'd only ever need to open it if I needed to change SIM cards, the battery, or the rare occasion where I'd need to plug it into the computer for some reason. Wireless charging, even on a charging pad, has some appeal to me.

Re:It will have a certain cool factor at first (4, Insightful)

mcelrath (8027) | about a year and a half ago | (#41304459)

The power connector itself is a massive point of failure, as they get full of dust, dirt, bent, static discharge, etc. My girlfriend has gone through 4 phones essentially because the microUSB power connector failed. I recently had to do some minor surgery to my Galaxy Nexus because the power connector was slightly bent, so that it always showed that it was charging even when not connected.

Good riddance to wired power. I'd gladly take my phone it out of my pocket and place it on a pad. I can't wait until such charging pads can be built into couch arms, tables, desks, etc. I'll never have to worry about whether my devices are charged. And some of them could be physically sealed from dust and water, substantially increasing their lifetime. (If you can forgo the headphone jack, microphone, etc -- like a on tablet)

Re:It will have a certain cool factor at first (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41304773)

Even though it's less power efficient, wireless charging will become the norm, because of the convienence. The first vcrs came with wired remotes, they didn't last long. People want and will buy the convienent over the ecologically sound, but more inconvienent choice. I would still want a hard-wired data cable for speed and security concerns, perhaps use well engineered rubber plugs to waterproof rhe phone.

Re:It will have a certain cool factor at first (1)

Sebastopol (189276) | about a year and a half ago | (#41304987)

Hmm.. i disagree. tossing my phone on to the couch is a lot easier than lining up the dastardly adapter in the fragile charging stand, or having to dink with cables and find an outlet. maybe i'm just super lazy, but i really like the sound of not having to fuss with adapters, and i'm over 40.

More than cool. (4, Insightful)

Orsmo (976) | about a year and a half ago | (#41304701)

I'm sure there's definitely a whiz-bang factor at work here, but I think there's more to it than that.

Power is the last reason you need to connect a cable to most wireless devices now. Have low bandwidth data needs communicated at short distances (both a limitation and a feature)? There's NFC. Have one or two-way audio, or higher speed data transmission with the range of a room or two? There's Bluetooth. Need to communicate at greater range with much higher bandwidth? There's Wifi. Need to charge your device? There's Qi.

Why do I need a USB port anymore? My phone syncs over my WiFi network. It talks to my car audio system via Bluetooth. It talks to my car speaker phone or my headset via Bluetooth too. It just might, someday very soon, pay for my purchase via NFC as I swipe it at the checkout lane. Someday soon, you may even pair your device with Bluetooth accessories or join it to a WiFi network by passing it over a NFC pad. So I have to find the right cable and power adapter to charge it? Why should I have to do that when there's Qi?

Given that Qi can be combined with NFC, its possible that there is some hardware design synergy that makes the cost of implementing both together more palatable than implementing either alone. Honestly, if Apple were a member of the Wireless Power Consortium, I'd expect the new iPhone to have both NFC and Qi. Even without that membership, it just might anyway.

Not new (4, Informative)

michaelmalak (91262) | about a year and a half ago | (#41304073)

For anyone who's followed their dentist's advice, wireless charging is not new [metafilter.com].

Re:Not new (1)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | about a year and a half ago | (#41304333)

For anyone who's followed their dentist's advice, wireless charging is not new [metafilter.com].

Error: File not found Looks like you've asked for a file that doesn't exist, try out the search below to find what you are looking for, which searches across all the MetaFilter sites.

Re:Not new (1)

firex726 (1188453) | about a year and a half ago | (#41304793)

As I recall induction charging is OK for a toothbrush that you only use for a few minutes a day and has hours to charge, and has a low draw on the battery. Smartphone is basically opposite of that.

Efficiency should kill it (1)

aaarrrgggh (9205) | about a year and a half ago | (#41304079)

Efficiency alone is such a big problem that it is hard to imagine it getting widely adopted before regulators kill it.

It is much more logical to push for common connectors.

Re:Efficiency should kill it (4, Insightful)

Barlo_Mung_42 (411228) | about a year and a half ago | (#41304153)

We pretty much already have common connectors with the exception of Apple.

Re:Efficiency should kill it (0)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | about a year and a half ago | (#41304347)

Yup, every device in my house uses micro or mini usb.. the only exception is my daughter's ipod with it's "special" connector. I wish apple would get on board and follow some standards.

Re:Efficiency should kill it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41304473)

well, this sounds funny, particularly since nowadays, you can get an iphone charger anywhere, but good luck trying to find a nokia, rim or samsung one...

Re:Efficiency should kill it (1)

mdielmann (514750) | about a year and a half ago | (#41304611)

OTOH, my 2.0A Nextar brand (maybe, bought at the Source) micro works for both my Blackberry and my girlfriend's Samsung. Brand doesn't really matter when you use a standard, just the right connector and output amperage (voltage is covered in the spec).

Re:Efficiency should kill it (2)

cduffy (652) | about a year and a half ago | (#41304733)

well, this sounds funny, particularly since nowadays, you can get an iphone charger anywhere, but good luck trying to find a nokia, rim or samsung one...

Because Nokia, RIM and Samsung are all doing the sane thing and standardizing on MicroUSB.

Re:Efficiency should kill it (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | about a year and a half ago | (#41304179)

So buy a better fridge or something. There. You just carbon credited about ten years of phone charging.

Re:Efficiency should kill it (1)

bkaul01 (619795) | about a year and a half ago | (#41304983)

Well, except for all that's involved in manufacturing the new fridge, discharging the refrigerant, disposing of the old one, etc. ...

Re:Efficiency should kill it (0)

lightknight (213164) | about a year and a half ago | (#41304183)

Indeed. There is nothing 'green' about it, though I'm sure the iPhone crowd will probably find they can't do without it.

It just bleeds energy into the atmosphere. Running your GPU at full tilt to generate BitCoins might be less dangerous.

Re:Efficiency should kill it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41304345)

Indeed. There is nothing 'green' about it, though I'm sure the iPhone crowd will probably find they can't do without it.

Let's see how the Nokia crowd get on with it first shall we...

Re:Efficiency should kill it (2)

PNutts (199112) | about a year and a half ago | (#41304649)

Indeed. There is nothing 'green' about it, though I'm sure the iPhone crowd will probably find they can't do without it.

Let's see how the Nokia crowd get on with it first shall we...

Hopefully both of them will come in and post.

Re:Efficiency should kill it (2)

PNutts (199112) | about a year and a half ago | (#41304623)

...though I'm sure the iPhone crowd will probably find they can't do without it.

Considering the iPhone doesn't have it and there are a growing number of "I can't live without it" posts from folks who already have it I agree with you. Nice try, but a miss on the Apple bashing.

Re:Efficiency should kill it (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year and a half ago | (#41305123)

Indeed. There is nothing 'green' about it, though I'm sure the iPhone crowd will probably find they can't do without it.

It just bleeds energy into the atmosphere. Running your GPU at full tilt to generate BitCoins might be less dangerous.

What are you talking about? A wireless charger doesn't radiate Watts of energy into the air when there's no device on the charging mat. Standby power use should be around the same as a traditional charger - the wireless power consortium claims they have test devices that are as low as .0001W of standby power [wirelesspo...ortium.com], but they don't say what currently shipping chargers are at.

Re:Efficiency should kill it (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41304387)

No, it will be killed because some dilhole celebrity will say, "wireless charging causes cancer / retardation / some other ludicrous thing". That will be a much bigger killer than the hysteresis loss.

Re:Efficiency should kill it (2)

WolfWithoutAClause (162946) | about a year and a half ago | (#41304619)

These devices use very little power.

A typical person in the Western world uses, on average, 2+ kW. That's not 2kWh per day, that's 2+ kWh EACH AND EVERY HOUR.

These devices that are proposed to be charged wirelessly are usually just a few watts, about 1/1000 of what the person is using; so even if the power efficiency halved for those particular devices, it would make essentially sod-all difference.

The other thing is that in many cases if it's easier to recharge, then you don't need such a big battery; batteries are incredibly expensive compared to wall supplied power.

Re:Efficiency should kill it (3, Interesting)

Algae_94 (2017070) | about a year and a half ago | (#41304887)

A typical person in the Western world uses, on average, 2+ kW. That's not 2kWh per day, that's 2+ kWh EACH AND EVERY HOUR.

Can you back this up a bit? You're saying that the average Westerner uses 48+ kWh every day. That's well over a megaWatt hour every month (and closer to 1.5 MWh). Does this figure include the average person's share of the power used for street lights, traffic lights, businesses, etc.?

Re:Efficiency should kill it (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | about a year and a half ago | (#41304627)

Hmmm, how about wirelessly powered light fixtures? We can use incandescent bulbs again since we aren't worried about efficiency!

Re:Efficiency should kill it (1)

kheldan (1460303) | about a year and a half ago | (#41304705)

Seriously, this.
I just don't get why this is such a popular idea, unless I remind myself that the average person is more or less technically uneducated, and doesn't understand that it's wildly energy inefficient. Also, echoing other comments on this topic: This is far from a new idea, and again: there are reasons we haven't gone this way before, but nobody seems to understand that.

Re:Efficiency should kill it (1)

oji-sama (1151023) | about a year and a half ago | (#41305087)

Seriously, this. I just don't get why this is such a popular idea, unless I remind myself that the average person is more or less technically uneducated, and doesn't understand that it's wildly energy inefficient. Also, echoing other comments on this topic: This is far from a new idea, and again: there are reasons we haven't gone this way before, but nobody seems to understand that.

Nothing serious about the inefficiency. We are not talking about cars, we are talking about 5W chargers...

I would read this with a pinch of salt (I probably would not often charge two devices at the same time), but it is pretty informative. http://www.wirelesspowerconsortium.com/technology/total-energy-consumption.html [wirelesspo...ortium.com]

Re:Efficiency should kill it (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year and a half ago | (#41305049)

Efficiency alone is such a big problem that it is hard to imagine it getting widely adopted before regulators kill it.

It is much more logical to push for common connectors.

As long as it doesn't use much standby power, efficiency during charging shouldn't be that big of a factor.

My phone battery holds around 8Watt-hours of power, so even if the charger is only 50% efficient, that means 8Wh of power wasted for each charge.

8 Wh wasted every day for a year is 3Kwh, or around 45 cents of power (depending on where you live).

In comparison, an EnergyStar rated TV is allowed to consume up to 1W of power in sleep mode, so if your TV is powered off 16 hours a day, it will waste 16Wh of power each day, or about twice as much power as you're wasting by using a wireless charger to charge your phone.

Granted, 8Wh/day across hundreds of millions of people is a lot of energy, but also, hundreds of millions of plug-in chargers and cables also ads up to a lot of wasted resources, if everyone had one powermat for their devices and didn't receive a new plug-in charger with each device, that would eliminate a lot of resource waste.

Re:Efficiency should kill it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41305063)

My question is if switching to wireless charging will increase my electric bill?
If leaving my current phone charger i nteh wall is supposed to be bad as it sucks up electricity even when the phone isn't plugged in, how bad will it be to leave one of these in as it draws power and transmits.

Not at all. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41304081)

Waste of power if you transmit it over any distance, and otherwise you still have to put it on a pad that's connected to a wire.
So yeah, not all that useful for most applications.

Re:Not at all. (2)

Cinder6 (894572) | about a year and a half ago | (#41304501)

A wireless charging pad is largely useless. I had one for the Touchpad. It was neat, but ultimately not worth the cost (though I did get it on a steep discount).

On the other hand, I would absolutely love a wireless charging table or countertop. In my SF dream world, my house would charge all my devices while I was inside, regardless of where I put them. Of course, my SF dream world has flying cars and teleporters.

Interoperable until Apple gets bright ideas... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41304083)

Thanks to the widely accepted Qi standard, there shouldn't be a problem with interoperability [...]

Just then, Tim Cook looked at that with a cold, calculated expression, and simply responded, "Challenge accepted".

Great for the forgetful (1)

randomencounter (653994) | about a year and a half ago | (#41304105)

I know a few people who would actually remember to charge their phones given wireless tech that don't now.

All they need is to put the charger by their bed and they're set.

why is it better? (2)

alen (225700) | about a year and a half ago | (#41304131)

i just plug my iphone into my laptop all day and not think about it. at home its into the wall

what does wireless charging give me?

Re:why is it better? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41304227)

perhaps this isn't obvious enough...

wireless = less wires

Re:why is it better? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41304305)

Fewer. "Wires" is not a mass noun.

Alternatively, "less wire" or "less wiring".

Re:why is it better? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41304939)

though I appreciate your correct grammar, "wireless = fewer wires" just doesn't have the same symmetry.

Re:why is it better? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41304371)

Why do less wires = better? If you bother to answer keep in mind the context of the post you responded to was about a single wire for his phone

Re:why is it better? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41304903)

The example given in TFA is in a coffee shop, where presumably multiple people would be wirelessly charging. Therefore, one less wire per person means fewer wires plural. (thanks for the grammar correction on "fewer" my fellow A. Coward).

The primary advantages for me here are 1) fewer of other people's wires to step over as you head to and from your destination, 2) less time taken finding and plugging in your device to your power source, and 3) (perhaps the most advantageous) less bother with having and carrying a charge cable at all times.

Here's an example for point 3, say you're at the coffee shop and your device is almost dead, but you forgot your charge cable. If your device is capable of wireless charging, then you're good to go. If, on the other hand it is not, you need to rely on someone else or even the establishment to allow you to borrow a cable - and one that matches your device's specifications.

Re:why is it better? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41305051)

Less clutter, less wires to keep track off where they are when it's not plugged in, less wear and tear on the ports (which are often the first part to break)... Do I need to get into details?

In my group of friends over the past five years or so I can recall three broken phones due to wear and tear on the micro usb port - these all being people who NEVER use it for data transferring.... And two that broke because they were charging and a dog in one case and a thoughtless move in the other caught a cable and sent the attached phone crashing to the floor.... That's a total of five phones that would have been completely saved by this technology. And that's just from one wire.

Less clutter also means a cleaner desktop, which some people think is a big deal, and some people don't. But most people outside of their mother's basement at least know that clutter is bad.

Stop this silliness! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41304139)

Wireless charging is for low powered devices. OK, gross consumption is higher than wired, but so fucking what, we're talking miliwatts here! You want to make a difference, insulate your attic, install decent double glazing, use solar for heating hot water, adjust your thermostat by a couple of degrees accordingly, don't watch TV through your receiver to non-existent bass and garbage "surround", save if for movies and games.

Re:Stop this silliness! (1)

mmell (832646) | about a year and a half ago | (#41304629)

20mW x (conservatively) 50,000,000 devices nationwide (what, you thought this was just about cell phones? Don't forget LameBoys, PeeS2's and the NoMindO DS) ~= 100,000W.

Re:Stop this silliness! (1)

bkaul01 (619795) | about a year and a half ago | (#41305031)

So, about as much electricity as a few houses, distributed nationwide. Yep, that's in the noise.

Rage Comic (2, Funny)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | about a year and a half ago | (#41304141)

Panel 1: Phone runs out of juice
Panel 2: Put phone on wireless charger
Panel 3: Hmm... wireless energy transfer...
Panel 4: I am Nikola Tesla!
Panel 5: Me gusta!
Panel 6: Extra panel. Ignore.

A lot of charging is already wireless. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41304205)

There is no conduction between the primary and secondary winding of a transformer, such as what is found in all kinds of power supplies including some charger wall bugs.

On the flip side of less efficient charging... (1)

Darus77 (565492) | about a year and a half ago | (#41304247)

Many devices may last longer due to the USB charging port getting less (ab)use. I can't even begin to count how many people i know that destroyed the charge port on their phones despite careful handling.

Re:On the flip side of less efficient charging... (1)

pspahn (1175617) | about a year and a half ago | (#41304677)

This this this.

I'm thinking about a bag similar to what is offered by Voltaic Systems [voltaicsystems.com], but with wireless charging instead.

I bike and wear a backpack, and have been looking at rolling a custom thing from some of Voltaic's parts, and to think that if there was wireless charging capability, I would never have to worry about my devices bouncing around in my bag while connected to a laptop or battery to charge.

Someone build this and let me test the prototype =).

Re:On the flip side of less efficient charging... (1)

jtownatpunk.net (245670) | about a year and a half ago | (#41305083)

I came here to say the same thing. A decade ago, my phones had power/data connections designed so the plug would fail, protecting the phone, and could be replaced cheaply. Look at the business end of an Ericsson T28 for an example. You could drop it from several feet up directly on the plug and the plug itself would absorb much of the impact's energy as it popped free from the phone. Same with my Motorola iDEN phone. My favorite early phone, a Sony Z100, had a charger that used pogo pins to charge the phone. My current phone has that capability but Verizon hasn't seen fit to provide US customers with a way to use the contacts.

Of course, it doesn't take much imagination to figure out why manufacturers and carriers have switched to these more fragile connections. They need to ensure that people are driven to replace their phones every couple years. I've managed to not break any of my USB-charged/connected phones yet but it's certainly more likely with mini/micro-USB plugs than it was with the old style.

My last phone still worked but was getting picky about which USB cable I used by the time I replaced it after 27 months and that was with just one or two plug cycles per day. I only plugged it in at work and left it at my desk all day unless I went to lunch. My current phone gets more plug cycles, tho I try to minimize them by leaving the cord plugged in and moving it from one power source to another. I'd love to have a wireless power delivery method that can give it the full amp at 5 volts that the AC charger provides. Even if I had to use a pad, it would be better than the micro-USB plug. Heck, just having cradles that use pogo pins on the power contacts would be an improvement.

The future (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41304261)

Wireless charging SHOULD be the future. Never plug in anything ever again! But the efficiency problem, as mentioned, is the big concern right now. Exponential falloff is going to need to be overcome. Some sort of directionality will have to be introduced to overcome charging at a distance, with a method for triangulation introduced so you know where to direct it as well.

But once these problems are overcome I can imagine wireless charging going from a neat geeky feature to standardized for more and more items until eventually we don't have any plugs at all. And then conspiracy theorists will of course complain about "the waves" that are "invading their bodies" and how it's going to make them sterile so all humans will die and the secret lizard people illuminati will rule the earth.

Re:The future (2)

vlm (69642) | about a year and a half ago | (#41304439)

And then conspiracy theorists will of course complain about "the waves" that are "invading their bodies" and how it's going to make them sterile so all humans will die and the secret lizard people illuminati will rule the earth.

Solution: package combined Qi charger / wifi base station. Everyone knows wifi already does all that stuff, so Qi won't get any of the blame. Everybody wins!

Who is more vulnerable to wireless charging (1)

tokul (682258) | about a year and a half ago | (#41304263)

Who is more vulnerable to wireless charging emissions? Some mechanical devices or life forms already suffering from radiation caused diseases.

Re:Who is more vulnerable to wireless charging (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41304503)

These wireless charges will not emit ionizing radiation. Please show theoretical explanation for chemical reactions initiated by something below infrared.

Re:Who is more vulnerable to wireless charging (1)

mmell (832646) | about a year and a half ago | (#41304661)

You grew up in a home under high-tension power lines, didn't you? 8^)

What's with all the nay-sayers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41304273)

Don't know about you, but I could do with a couple less cables on my desk. A charging mat, or hopefully in the future a table that charges your phone when you put it down is the best way to never again run out of steam on you mobile devices, it simply recharges when you're not using it. The only downside I see is battery wear, which is easily countered by using devices with user replaceable batteries (such as the the Galaxy SIII, charging station not yet available, but the impatient can hack it up themselves without much effort using palm's wireless charger/coil).

Only losers charge with cables (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41304291)

Are you a loser?
 

Efficiency versus not breaking your phone. (4, Insightful)

gmarsh (839707) | about a year and a half ago | (#41304307)

Something to consider - I've replaced the MicroUSB connector in my cellphone *twice*. The phone would work for about a year, then it would go flaky - you'd have to wiggle the connector a few times for the phone to reliably charge, and sometimes I'd go check on it and it wouldn't be charging - and it would happen with different cables. Supposedly these things are rated for 10,000 cycles, but I haven't seen it. Maybe my phone does something it shouldn't, like spark the +5V pin when the connector is plugged in. *shrug*

Secondly, I've caught the cord of my phone multiple times and pulled it off the desk onto the floor - and my cats/dogs have probably done it more times than I have.

Though there's an efficiency loss in wireless charging versus conductive charging, I wonder if there's an efficiency gain that exists in less phones being repaired/replaced because of damage related to conductive charging.

(Note that this is not a well thought out, researched argument - just a dumb thought.)

Re:Efficiency versus not breaking your phone. (1)

rrohbeck (944847) | about a year and a half ago | (#41304449)

Yup. The mechanical stress from plugging it in and pulling is quite a bit. Power plugs failed on three laptops/netbooks of mine and the connector on my current phone has started to move a lot more than it used to. I wonder how long the solder connection will last.

Re:Efficiency versus not breaking your phone. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41304891)

Have my doubts that this would pan out.
Also, I have had my laptop for over 5 years, and my phone for 2. I have never had a problem with the power or usb ports because I take of them both and don't apply unnecessary stress. My high school gf's family seemed to constantly burn through laptops because the power cord would fail where it met the laptop body, but of course that didn't stop them from leaving it plugged in and tensioned... I am sure that some mechanical or wireless charging solution might improve this but its funny how in reality addressing carelessness would best solve this problem.

Re:Efficiency versus not breaking your phone. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41304975)

I have the exact opposite experience. My original G1 which I retired some time ago after abusing the crap out of it(my first "smart phone") now is used by my mother with a new battery and is still going strong is all respects despite is extended service.

Re:Efficiency versus not breaking your phone. (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | about a year and a half ago | (#41305165)

Though there's an efficiency loss in wireless charging versus conductive charging, I wonder if there's an efficiency gain that exists in less phones being repaired/replaced because of damage related to conductive charging.

(Note that this is not a well thought out, researched argument - just a dumb thought.)

True, one prematurely replaced cell phone buys quite a few kilowatt-hours of electricity. And add to that that one prematurely replaced hip buys a lot of cellphones.

Time (2)

symes (835608) | about a year and a half ago | (#41304337)

Time is, I think, the real issue for consumers. If you can put your phone on a table, or whatever, for 30mins and have it completely recharged this will do well. But I have a feeling that inefficiency will make it something for when you sleep, so you can wake up to fully recharged gadgets. I can't see wireless providing more juice than most gadgets use so having them in public places, coffee shops. etc., will not overcome the inevitable flat battery, just delay it for a bit.

Re:Time (1)

Kardos (1348077) | about a year and a half ago | (#41305013)

"Its inefficient" means that the fraction of consumed power that makes it to the device is small.

If a wired charger is 99% efficient, you can deliver 1W to the batteries with 1/0.99=1.01W off the grid
If your wireless charger is 75% efficient, you need to draw 1/0.75=1.33W

TLDR: You can have the same charging time as wired, but you need to consume more power from the grid

homebrew / hacking (2)

vlm (69642) | about a year and a half ago | (#41304365)

I find it odd no one has implemented a homebrew hack of Qi.

You'd think it would be a fairly stereotypical elektor / nuts n volts / QST QEX type of article, "run your ardweeeeeeeeno off a Qi charger!" type of article.

Or if you'd prefer hardware modules, a adafruit / dangerous prototypes here's a little 1 sq inch PCB that when waved over a Qi charger outputs regulated 5 volts on these terminals.

All that's out there is sealed consumer grade end user devices, which is kinda weird compared to, say, the bluetooth or GPS or wifi or ethernet or pretty much every other "system" ecosystem.

Doesn't even have to be "hack-ish" for end user devices. Personally, as a guy who occasionally butchers wood aka wanna be finish carpenter, I'd wanna buy a little charger module for some of my projects. Here, route a pocket of specified dimensions, epoxy module in place, run power cable to wall, module is polyurethane finish compatible (or lacquer or whatever). I'm sure that would be very challenging for a roofer or someone completely confounded at the installation of a standard lockset in a pre-drilled door, but I think your average "real" woodworker could figure it out easily enough.

Its like they're trying to choke off innovation to make it fail, so they can "prove" no one wants it.

Nightstands (1)

caffiend666 (598633) | about a year and a half ago | (#41304375)

My alarm clock is a touchpad with wireless charging. Who wants to fumble with fragile cables/docks in the dark? I'm looking forward to having a wireless charging phone again for the same reason, Docks and ports break easily and I do not want to deal with them when half awake. In my bedroom, I want easy access to devices in the dark. The rest of the time, I use wires. Kind of like asking why people want wireless internet or audio, there are places where wireless is worth the hastle.

Re:Nightstands (0)

L1mewater (557442) | about a year and a half ago | (#41304537)

My alarm clock is a cheap digital wristwatch. No cables to fumble with, ever, and I can put in a battery and not worry about it again for five years. If I knock it off my nightstand, it's none the worse for wear.

Re:Nightstands (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41304953)

My alarm clock is a really bright mass of incandescent gas.

Absolutely love it; never want to lose it. (1)

jrronimo (978486) | about a year and a half ago | (#41304389)

I've been using a Palm pre+ and pre2 for the last few years. It has a wireless charging coil integrated into the phone's back cover and a desktop 'puck' called the Touchstone that uses induction to charge the phone. The phone gets a little warm while charging, but has never been a problem.

Aside from the cool factor is the "clean" factor: My night stand where I keep the Touchstone is all the cleaner in that there's just this little black disk on it. The cable is easy to hide since it just plugs into the puck and can be routed elsewhere. All I have to do is set my phone on it and blammo, charging. In the morning I pick it up and go -- I'm never worrying about constant plugging into a jack, wearing either it or the cable out over time. It's simple and elegant. I don't think I would be as happy if I had to return to a cabled charge system again.

I'm not a fan of PowerMat, since it uses covers. I much prefer the "integrated-into-the-phone-case" solution. As such, I'm excited for the new Lumia phones.

A coffee shop is not the killer app. (5, Interesting)

Above (100351) | about a year and a half ago | (#41304401)

Each time I read a wireless charging article I find people who seem incapable of believing how simply most consumers will use this technology. Consumers don't want wireless charging primarily for use at a coffee shop, or on the bus, or in a train. They aren't, for the most part, interested in the ability to top off at the airport. No, for all of those things consumers have always demanded enough battery life to make it through the day without needing to recharge. Preferably several days. Most phones deliver, at least for the right usage patterns.

Wireless charging is all about forgetting to charge at home, and the inconvenience of 25 different chargers. Sitting next to me are propretary chargers for proprietary devices. A digital SLR. A digital point and shoot. An old cell phone. A new cell phone. A camcorder. Some regular AA's for my Apple wireless keyboard. The number of wall warts and specialty cables is astounding and annoying. Even if all the tech wasn't a disaster, sometimes I'm just tired and forget to charge my phone overnight.

This is why wireless is such a sexy idea. Imagine a wireless charging pad where you store your cameras, and one on your bedside table. You just toss your phone or cameras on it at night, wake up and it is charged. No plugging in cables. No row of wall warts. No incompatible battery chargers. No running out of outlets along a segment of counter.

Wireless charging's killer app is at home. One charging "area" for multiple devices. Make it cheap enough I can afford one by my desk, in my kitchen, and at my night stand and my gizmos will never run out of juice again, and topping off at a coffee shop, airport, or other place will diminish in need.

Re:A coffee shop is not the killer app. (2)

vlm (69642) | about a year and a half ago | (#41304523)

Also as far as I know Qi is worldwide, unlike almost every other charging standard. If this tech survives, you'll be able to walk into every hotel room in the world and drop your phone on the charger and it'll work.

Please don't tell me USB is worldwide. By "USB" do you mean micro, mini, full size, or that apple doc connector, and do you mean raw regulated 5V or apple wiring with the weird sense resistors to program peak current? AC line power is more "standard" than USB.

Hipsta puh-leez! (1)

mark_reh (2015546) | about a year and a half ago | (#41304431)

We've been going nutz and switching to crappy fluorescent lamps for years because they are more efficient, phone makers have been adopting charging standards that allow a phone charger to be used with any brand of phone, and they've been redesigning those for minimal "vampire" (1W) power use. Now, all of a sudden, we should give up on efficiency?

10 years ago I used to drop my Palm Pilot into a charging/sync cradle. It was efficient and worked reliably. Wireless charging is not an improvement.

Interference with RFID (2)

labnet (457441) | about a year and a half ago | (#41304491)

The QI chargers frequency shift between 110khz and 205khz depending on power demand. This stomps over the common RFID frequencies of 125khz and 134.2khz which also use near field coupling to communicate with tags commonly used in animal and asset identification.
These systems already have a hard time dealing with ambient noise from motors, power lines etc. .Having deliberate frequency changing leaky coupled chargers is going to cause massive interference headaches for hundreds of thousands of existing LF RFID operators.

Why couldn't they have limited the carrier from 150 to 250khz instead???

Re:Interference with RFID (1)

vlm (69642) | about a year and a half ago | (#41304601)

Lowest aviation NDB I'm aware is is around 190 KHz so you're already pissing off the aviators with the current 110-205 standard. push it lower like 80 to 100 please, not into the aviation bands. "Malfunctioning Qi charger kills hundreds in jetliner crash!" etc.

The largest market for this... (3, Interesting)

Obfuscant (592200) | about a year and a half ago | (#41304535)

will be the lost cellphone recovery services.

Imagine how many people will walk away from their cellphones after they've put them on the table at the coffee shop. The old adage "keep it in your pants" will take on a whole new life.

You know, I've been thinking of this too... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41304603)

Right now, before I go to bed at night I remember to plug my phone in. If I switched to wireless charging, I'd still have to remember to put my phone on the charging mat - a savings of roughly 1/10 of a second every day since I wouldn't have to plug in the charger. Whoppty Doopty Doo.

To be honest, I can't seem to figure out how possibly saving a total of an hour out of my entire life is worth the added expense.

Oh Hell Yea. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41304995)

Takes longer to charge, way less efficient(read uses more power), yet another non-standard charger that will cost so much to replace that people will chuck the device and buy a whole new unit.

Oh hell yea. Take my money, please.

How do you convince people it's safe? (1)

HockeyPuck (141947) | about a year and a half ago | (#41305055)

I've got lots of friends that won't hold a cell phone to their heads to use it, but will only use their cell phone with a lanyard/earbud, due to concerns about phone radiation.

Now we're supposed to convince them that it's ok to put a device on a charging pad?

"Widely accepted Qi standard" - not (1)

Animats (122034) | about a year and a half ago | (#41305187)

This article is a pitch for the Qi standard. The "widely accepted Qi standard" is still one of several competing technologies. Neither Apple nor Google is a member of the Wireless Power Consortium. There are 91 Qi compatible products [wirelesspo...ortium.com], but most of them are chargers or add-on power receivers. Other than NTT DoCoMo, almost no manufacturer makes phones tablets with the Qi technology. Nobody seems to make a tablet or laptop with it built in.

One thing they got right is that there's minimal communication between power receiver and transmitter. There's just enough one-way communication for the power receiver to send "I want power" or "I don't want power". This shuts down the transmitter when the battery is fully charged. There is no data path from power transmitter to receiver, which avoids the use of this as an attack vector. That's been a problem with public USB charging ports. Another thing NTT/Panasonic got right is that their Eluga Eluga V P-06D phone, which has Qi charging, is waterproof.

Outside of the NTT/Panasonic world, though, there are few devices with integral Qi charging. Panasonic has been getting charging pads into a few coffee shops in Japan, but widespread adoption by the big chains hasn't happened.

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