EV Wireless Charging Almost as Good as Plugging In

Wireless charging for electric vehicles has been an option to their owners for some time now, but the existing solutions are hardly efficient, with charging times far longer than the typical wired charger and there was no assurance of compatibility especially for larger vehicles. At Oak Ridge National Laboratory, scientists are close to solving the wireless charging issue for good. Their latest wireless charger is a 20-kilowatt unit that touts up to 90 percent efficiency, which should be close to matching many plug-in chargers, while charging just by proximity, such as when you pull into your garage. This new charger is just as safe as ever, despite the massive increase in power output, as the magnetic fields that transfer the energy fall of quickly.

This charger won’t be available for consumers anytime soon, unfortunately, and would not render plugging in completely obsolete for those needing a charge in a hurry. The laboratory is not stopping here either, with the next aim being to develop a 50 kW wireless charger with similar efficiency, which would be able to match many of the “quick charge” systems that are currently on the market. Should they succeed, it will be a milestone achievement for electric vehicles, as plugging in would no longer have any benefit as well as making electric vehicles far more convenient to charge up and use. An on-the-move version of the technology is also in the pipelines, which would allow EVs to charge while travelling down specific routes without needing to stop and replenish their supply, which would really change the game for electric vehicles. Powered roads for electric cars could be real sooner than we think!

The IKEA Wireless Charging Collection Hits Stores This Spring

IKEA is introducing a lineup of wireless charging furniture and accessories that are hitting stores in late spring. The collection includes lamps, end tables, single and triple charging pads, and an installable wireless charging pad.

The whole wireless charging sensation is something that hasn’t really taken off since it hasn’t been mass adopted in the past few years like so many wish it would have. There have been many devices that have adopted the technology and adapters made to take use of the tech in the form of cases and battery adapters.

It has been known for a while that IKEA planned to introduce this lineup, but it just announced that they will go on sale in late spring. The lineup consists of standard Nordmärke wireless charging pads that are $28 for the single and $65 for the triple. Then there is an actual furniture line that will have the Qi standard charging pads built-in. An even cooler product is the Jyssen wireless charger, a $30 pad that you can install into existing furniture with a $5 Fixa hole saw set that they will also be selling. That should make it a breeze and very affordable to make your whole house wireless charging friendly, from your desk to the kitchen counter there are tons of possibilities.

Thank you Gizmodo for providing us with this information

Toshiba Silently Helps Google Build Tech for Project Ara Smartphones

Google might take most credit for Project Ara and its plan to make modular smartphones a reality, but according to Bloomberg, Toshiba has been the Japanese company who was silently helping to develop the chips that would make Project Ara a reality.

It is said that there are two different chips which make Project Ara work. The switch, which makes it possible to swap out different modules on the fly, and a bridge chip that allows each component to connect to the rest of the device. Google is said to have total control over the switch chip, white Toshiba has the liberty of selling the bridge chip to any company interested in building Project Ara modules.

Aside from chips, Toshiba is said to also be interested in selling modules, having be the first company to reveal swappable cameras. The company is to be working on a variety of components, including one that could add wireless charging. In addition to the latter, Toshiba sees a lot of potential in Project Ara beyond smartphones, stating that it could expand to other type of devices and the general Internet of Things.

There is still no set plan for a general release of the modular phone, though Google has recently confirmed plans for a market pilot test in Puerto Rico sometime this year.

Thank you TechnoBuffalo for providing us with this information

Wireless Qi Charging Coming to 50 UK McDonald’s Restaurants

A new deal between fast food chain McDonald’s and wireless charging solutions company Aircharge means that 50 McDonald’s restaurants in the UK will be offering free Qi (proncounced ‘Chee’) wireless charging.

The Qi charging system allows devices to be charged by merely being within close proximity to a power transmission pad – no need to plug in any cables.  Asus, HTC, Huawei, LG, Motorola, Nokia, Samsung, BlackBerry, and Sony are already working to adopt the standard for its mobile devices, with 70 Qi-compatible smartphones already on the market.

600 Qi charger will be available over 50 sites, many of which are expected to be in London. There has been no announcement yet as to which restaurants will be offering the service.

The Qi charging service has already been successfully trialled in a handful of McDonald’s restaurants. A post by the Wireless Power Consortium suggests that customers taking advantage of the trial tended to wait in the restaurant upwards of half-an-hour just to use the service.

Source: The Next Web

Wireless Charging Could Soon be the Norm at Starbucks

Wireless charging is the way to go when it comes to charging your mobile phone or tablet, but Starbucks is big enough to make it go mainstream, no?

The coffee shop chain is reportedly set to roll out wireless charging stations in its shops in the San Francisco Bay Area, and if it’s successful, across the US. The company will be rolling out wireless charging in its shops using Powermat Technologies hardware, with Powermat Technologies’ CEO Daniel Schreiber teasing that the charging speed at Starbucks locations could actually rival cabled charging speeds.

He added that there are only a few devices on the market that are compatible with Powermat’s technology, out of the box at least, with Starbucks providing Power Rings for charging. You can buy them for $10, or loan them, with Duracell-Powermat providing them online. Starbucks’ vice-president of in-store digital services said “You’ve got to have a complete system. No one has taken the plunge, [but] we want to start giving manufacturers a reason to put it in their phones.”

Sources: TweakTown & Readwrite.com.

Apple’s iWatch Rumored To Arrive Next October

China-based report might indicate that the long rumored Apple iWatch will finally be launched in October 2014. According to a source who is said to have a good track record with leaks involving Apple, the Cupertino based tech titan is testing two different prototypes of the iOS powered timepiece. Both are equipped with a 100mAh battery, which is roughly one-third of the 315mAh capacity of the cell on the Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch. And despite an update last month that improved the Galaxy Gear’s battery life, it still is the subject of some complaints. In other words, if a 315mAh battery doesn’t provide enough battery life on Samsung’s smartwatch, what can 100mAh bring to the iWatch?

The report insists that the Apple iWatch will be able to support wireless charging from 3.2 feet away. This would mean that the wireless charging would not be based on Qi’s standards, but would use a magnetic resonance system similar to what Samsung is rumored to be using for its smartphones starting in the middle of next year. If you had enough chargers, you could set them up in certain areas of your home or in your car or office, and the watch could recharge once you were within range.

The report should however be taken as a rumor and nothing more, reports about what the iWatch will look like or its functions are just speculation. Even those who claim to have seen the watch with their own two eyes don’t know if what they were looking at was a prototype that could be changed before it is released.

Thank you Phonearena for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Phonearena

Cota By Ossia Offers Wireless Power Using Same Spectrum As Wi-Fi

Wireless power, the dream of many and something that has yet to fully take off in the public domain. Sure there are ways of cutting the wires and using charging stations, power pads and more, but what if you could just use something like a router that broadcasts power to your local devices? Well that’s exactly what the Cota by Ossia does.

The brainchild of physicist Hatem Zeine, Cota by Ossia can deliver wireless power, something that has taken them 10 years to achieve effectively, a mission that raised $3.2 million along the way to make is possible. This week at Disrupt, Zeine will be ready to show a world first public demo of the Cota wireless prototype, which can charge power devices at a distances of around 10 feet, delivering around 10% of the total original source power to devices using the same unlicensed spectrum used by Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Zigbee and other communication standards.

“What we’re doing uses the same frequencies as Wi-Fi,” he explained. “It’s the unlicensed spectrum that’s used by Wi-Fi, and many phones, Bluetooth and Zigbee devices and so on in our lives. The nice thing about this frequency is that it’s just the sweet spot for our technology for distance, safety, for the size of the antennas and the hardware that we use, it’s just a perfect level. Also it’s well understood, since people have had Wi-Fi in their homes for a long time now.”

The technology clearly has a way to go just yet, but it is an exciting start. While at this time only 10% power is provided, that would likely be enough to keep your phone from going flat between uses, or to slow charge it throughout the day, enough to keep your hand held games consoles, controllers, Bluetooth speakers and many other devices ticking away nicely. If the tech can be improved and offer more power over a greater distance, then we could be in for a charging cable free future.

Thank you TechCrunch for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of TechCrunch.

New chips from Texas Instruments to support multi-mode wireless charging.

Texas Instruments announced that they have been developing a chip that allows multi-mode wireless charging solutions, TI also assures that the devices equipped with the wireless charging chips should be available by the end of this year.

Texas Instruments said that their supporting chips will allow wireless charging on current and future version of Wireless Power Consortium (WPC) Qi standard and Power Matters Alliance (PMA) specifications.

The Qi specification states that a compatible device for wireless charging should be on a surface area of at least 70mm by 20mm via magnetic induction. A transmitter coil and a receiver coil will be used to transmit power. This is done using the recently announced bq51050B single-chip wireless power receiver with integrated charger and bq500410A 3-coil coil transmitter.

The plans are already made to develop products to allow support for Alliance for Wireless Power magnetic resonance’s specification, whose primary focus is on advancing spatial freedom in wireless power which takes a different approach to wireless charging. The A4WP group has members from electronic companies which includes Samsung, Qualcomm and others which will further research on this type of wireless charging.

As of now, Sami Kiriaki, senior vice president of Texas Instruments power management said,”We are shipping wireless power circuits to most major handset makers. And those companies continue to develop phones that support WPC’s Qi, which is currently the most mature and accessible design standard.”

In regards to A4WP, he added,””With A4WP and PMA entering the wireless power space, we naturally expect a need for multi-protocol solutions, and are prepared to address this need”.

This is a feature that many end users will really appreciate, not only that, but chip makers are making faster and more efficient processors in one corner, energy efficient flash memory in another and wireless charging which will increase user’s appreciation to mobile technology, without worrying about running out of power or being stuck with a power brick while using a device.