With Inductive Charging, Why Do We Still Need Wires?

Inductive battery charging is nothing new, although it hasn’t really had widespread adoption. Why? I have no idea.

According to Wikipedia, inductive charging uses an electromagnetic field to transfer energy between two objects. Chargers typically use an induction coil to create an alternating electromagnetic field from within a charging base station, and a second induction coil in the portable device takes power from the electromagnetic field and converts it back into electrical current to charge the battery. The two induction coils in proximity combine to form an electrical transformer.

Induction is nothing “new”, every transformer in your house uses induction to step power up or down. The cool part about induction is that it passes electrical energy from one coil to another coil without them physically touching each other. When this concept is applied to battery charging, induction can let you charge your device simply by placing it on top of a special charging pad.

Sound simple enough, right?

It is really that simple. The only catch is that your phone or tablet (or anything else you want to charge) has to have a matching induction coil inside and connected to the battery charging circuit.

That sounds complicated, but it’s not.

Palm introduced inductive charging with the Palm Pre and Palm Pixi, Energizer makes an inductive charging platform, various third-parties have after-market units, and even Samsung has an inductive charger for their Galaxy S III (that should be available soon).

Why doesn’t every phone and tablet support inductive charging?

Reason 1: Cost

Your device already has a USB port in it (that most of us only use for charging), so why add the extra components to the phone? Why spend the extra money on an inductive charger when a USB cable and wall wort are fairly standard and very cheap?

Reason 2: No Standard

Remember not long ago when every kind of phone had their own kind charging port? Samsung chargers weren’t compatible with Nokia, HTC did their own thing, et cetera, et cetera. It was frustrating! It was wasteful.

Now, thanks in part to the European Union, the standard charging port is microUSB. Is it perfect? No, but it’s standard. I can use my USB cord to charge almost anything.

Inductive charging operates on the same concept, but various manufacturers have implemented it differently. Generally speaking, you have to use the inductive charger that was made for your device.

Wrap up

The technology is there. It’s been proven in many, many applications. Since most of us use our USB ports only for charging we could potentially get rid of one more wire (or one more hole, as readers of my last “wireless” article pointed out).

Then, of course, is the cool factor. Right now, it’s cool because we don’t have it. I wonder, will it still be as cool after the industry has adopted a standard and every device includes it?

Let me know what you think! Do you want inductive charging in your phone and tablet? Why or why not? Sound off in the comments!

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About The Author
Joe Levi
Joe graduated from Weber State University with two degrees in Information Systems and Technologies. He has carried mobile devices with him for more than a decade, including Apple's Newton, Microsoft's Handheld and Palm Sized PCs, and is Pocketnow's "Android Guy". By day you'll find Joe coding web pages, tweaking for SEO, and leveraging social media to spread the word. By night you'll probably find him writing technology and "prepping" articles, as well as shooting video. Read more about Joe Levi here.