The pace of innovation in the wireless industry has been amazing to witness. Handsets that were once measured in pounds and required a briefcase to transport have morphed into elegant slabs of glass and metal that not only make phone calls, but surf the web, update your social status and take photos, all while fitting into a pocket. However, while we witness new innovations seemingly every day, the one area that has largely been left behind has been conveniently providing the power needed to allow users to make use of all the awesome features a modern smartphone makes possible.
Subpar battery life has long been an issue for device manufacturers and battery performance is one of the main benchmarks on which any new device is graded. As a result, a number of solutions have been introduced that provide various means of ensuring that a device can last an entire day. From rechargeable battery packs to solar cases to phone sleeves that hide an onboard battery backup, there are few approaches that haven’t been tried. Unfortunately, the majority of these solutions are less-than-elegant and none of them manage to get rid of the wires. However, members of an industry group established in late 2008, the Wireless Power Consortium and the charging standard (Qi) they have backed, is beginning to make progress towards solving the power problem that the wireless industry faces.
The promise of wireless charging is nothing new – after all, the WPC is closing in on its 4th birthday. The problem that wireless charging faced in trying to move beyond just being a “cool” accessory was the knowledge that, once I left my home or office, I still needed to find someplace to charge my device should the battery run low – a particular problem for wireless charging, given its emerging technology status. Arik Hesseldahl does a great job of highlighting the point here as well as outlining a potential solution in the form of the partnership between Procter & Gamble’s Duracell brand and one of the pioneers in wireless charging, Powermat. Recent announcements from this partnership – focused on locations in and around New York City – show the direction and the promise of wireless charging. Now, instead of worrying about my phone lasting through a day of meetings and then a night out at a Knicks game, I can breathe a little easier knowing I can charge my phone at MSG while I’m watching the game and not have to worry about my battery when I’m trying to live-tweet the 4thquarter.
As Hesseldahl notes, the partnerships in place are only going to matter to a few right now, and my example applies to a small number of users. However, the larger point is what the example and partnerships do represent- namely a vision of the future and what we have to look forward to as Duracell/Powermat expands their partnership while more and more devices are launched with the Qi technology built in. A future where we don’t have to worry about our battery gauge, where we aren’t always on the hunt for a free outlet and where we can just set a phone down and have it start charging. That’s a future I’m looking forward to, and at BrightPoint, we look forward to playing a part in that future.