Technically speaking, wireless charging for mobile devices has been widely available for some time now. Wireless charging devices are generally comprised of a built-in receiver that collects energy transmission from a separate charging mat. As long as the phone is placed on the mat, it’s within range to receive the flow of energy. However, what we see today can be considered merely a prelude to the increasing range of freedom and convenience that newer long-range technologies will soon deliver. Over the last few years, a number of startups have developed and demonstrated wireless charging systems that allow users to charge their devices from several feet away. One of the earliest efforts to commercialize such a technology came from startup firm Witricity, which uses a process called resonant inductive coupling that enables the power source to generate a long-range magnetic field. When this magnetic field comes in contact with the phone’s receiver, it induces a current that charges the phone. The technology is similar to what’s used in rechargeable electric toothbrushes. Soon enough, a competitor named Energous introduced their Wattup wireless charging system at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show. Unlike WiTricity’s coupling system, Energous uses a wall-mounted power transmitter that can locate devices via Bluetooth and sends out energy in the form of radio waves that can bounce off walls in order to reach the receiver. The waves are then converted into direct current. Although WiTricity’s system can charge devices up to 7 feet away and Energous’ invention has a longer charging range of about 15 feet, another startup named Ossia is taking long range charging a step further. The company is working on an even more sophisticated setup involving an array of antennae to transmit multiple power signals in the form of radio waves to a receiver as far as 30 feet away. The Cota wireless charging technology supports charging of several devices and allows for even more free rein without the worry of battery drain.
For the first time since Apple introduced the iPhone, the concept of what was possible with a smartphone is about to experience a second transformation as companies are poised to introduce revolutionary new features. With technologies like wireless charging, the smartphone experience can potentially be more convenient while flexible displays will open up whole new ways to interact. Hopefully, we won’t have to wait too long.