Since the invention of the mobile phone, and the technology behind it, many innovations have taken place to improve the mobile experience. Smartphones have nearly the same capabilities are desktop computers now, and the induction of artificial intelligence and other advances technology has improved the reach of mobile devices significantly. While recent upgrades to mobile devices have been geared toward enhanced features, like better picture quality and longer battery lives, more powerful advancements are on the horizon. Wireless charging of mobile devices is one area that has seen substantial growth over the last few years, but it is not without its limitations.
Mobile device users have been able to charge their phones without the need to physically plug into a power source for some time now. By simply placing a device on a specialised pad or station, charging takes place through close proximity power transfers. Major mobile device manufacturers have made this a feature of their most recent device upgrades, but there is a shift taking place in how devices can and will be charged in the years to come.
How WiFi Charging Works
Recently, MIT researchers discovered that WiFi charging was a real possibility in the world of mobile devices. The first full flexible device, able to convert energy from WiFi signals to electricity as a power source was developed. This rectifying antenna, or rectenna for short, uses a radio frequency antenna to gather electromagnetic waves, including those carrying WiFi signals. With that connection, a small device composed of semiconductor materials is then used to convert energy into a power source for mobile devices and batteries.
This technology differs from wireless charging because it eliminates the need for devices to be held close to the source of power. Instead, charging through WiFi signals can be done just about anywhere, so long as the user is connected to a WiFi signal and the device is enabled to accept such charging. The potential for this type of charging is far-reaching, as it would provide an easier experience for millions of current and future mobile device users, as well as greater accessibility around the globe.
Although the promise of charging over WiFi is an exciting development in the world of mobile devices, there are some restrictions that may keep it from coming to the broad market in the near future. The technology requires a certain infrastructure that could take years to implement. However, some are confident that the groundwork needed for this type of technology innovation is already well on its way.
A technology specialist from Money Pug, a website used to compare mobile phone deals in the UK, explains that investment from mobile carriers in the past few years may be the key to quickly implementing WiFi charging. The focus on 5G network expansions throughout the world has meant an increase in the amount of cellular hardware and signal density systems put in place. These additions to enable 5G networking is the same type of infrastructure needed to allow rectennas to convert certain signals to power sources for mobile devices. As mobile carriers continue to expand the 5G capabilities they promised to consumers, charging over WiFi may not be far behind.
The Future of Mobile
The ability to charge a mobile device without the constant need to plug into or be in close proximity to a power source is promising. Mobile users will have a completely different experience when they are free from these constraints, having nearly any device with an enabled connection to charge, at any time. There is likely to be a race to the top among mobile manufacturers to invest in this type of technology, but there may already be a clear winner. Apple has a patent for WiFi charging in place, and the company is diligently working on making this capability a reality for mobile users in the near future.
Above and beyond personal mobile phone use, the implications of WiFi charging are much more powerful. The ability to develop better connected devices, like the sensors included in IoT technology, may lead to faster connectivity and a more powerful overall experience. This could extend to several different industries, including but not limited to healthcare, construction, and home and commercial security. The ability to charge over WiFi is coming sooner than most think, and that innovation may be one of the most pronounced over the history of cellular and WiFi combined.