It’s something that we all want, but no manufacturer knows how to put on a spec sheet: fast charging. Sure, everybody puts down how long their smartphone or tablet is supposed to last, and many even tell you how big their device’s battery is in mAh, but rarely will you find someone bold enough to tell you how fast their hardware charges. Of course, we all want “fast charging”, but what does that really mean? And what are the trade offs?
On a recent episode of the Pocketnow Weekly, we talked about how long current battery technology takes to charge — and why it takes so long! It’s not a terribly exciting topic. Milliamp hours here, watt hours there. Lithium polymer this, and carbon nanotubes that… wait, did I just say “carbon nanotubes”? You bet your bucky-ball I did, and they’re the future!
Unfortunately, it will likely be well into the future before we see carbon nanotube technology in our smartphone and tablet batteries. Still, file this tech away for later, because when it gets here, it’s going to be amazing!
In electronics there are essentially three components that can hold a charge: inductors, which hold energy in a magnetic field; capacitors, which hold energy in an electric field; and batteries, which convert stored chemical energy into electrical energy.
We don’t seem to talk much about inductors (for reasons that you can go into in the comments, if you wish). Batteries and capacitors, however, those are two components that are commonly found in our mobile devices. Capacitors are usually fairly small, and batteries are relatively large. Capacitors take a charge quickly, but discharge quickly, too. Batteries take a charge slowly, but discharge slowly.
What we really want are capacitors that can store a fair amount of energy, charge quickly, and discharge relatively slowly. These puppies actually exist today, they’re called “ultra-capacitors” — and they’re huge! Unlike batteries, which can be fairly flat and thin, capacitors are generally thick and bulky. Put another way, you probably don’t want a phone four times as thick as the one that you have today just so it’s able to charge in 30 seconds.
There has to be another way!
Yes! There is another way! Sony and Rohm are working to introduce a new wireless charging device that, if their promises hold true, could completely charge your phone in a under an hour. Sure, that’s not the 30 second charge time that were were hoping for with nanotubes or ultra-capacitors, but it should be possible given today’s technologies. But there’s a catch.
Based on reports, charging at these speeds cannot be done through the traditional “plug it in” charging method that most people use to charge their phone today. For those of us who have already converted to wireless charging, we’re in for a treat! The way this new charging works is wireless. What’s more, it’s an extension of the Qi wireless charging standard that many smartphones and tablets already use today! The specifications are currently being finalized by the Wireless Power Consortium.
Unlike ultra-capacitors or carbon nanotubes, which are probably years and years away from being the tech inside your smartphone, Rohm and Sony plan on having the standard completed and chips in devices by the end of 2014. If you ask me, it can’t come soon enough!
Source: The Nikkei Business Daily