Despite a quiet period at the end of 2018, wireless charging has hit the headlines at the beginning of 2019, with new smartphone brands joining the Wireless Power Consortium, EV wireless charging getting a significant boost and even some news about Apple AirPower. This is of course on top of all the new consumer charging products that were recently showcased at CES 2019 – don’t worry we’ll be covering our top picks in a new blog post coming soon.
Wireless charging has been growing rapidly in the past few years and its development has been accelerated by Qi becoming the universal standard. 2018 itself was a big year for wireless charging with big brands such as Huawei, Google and Xaiomi finally releasing Qi smartphones. This has marked a turning point as now the majority of wireless charging phones going forward will come with Qi baked in.
We also saw some flashy new Qi chargers in 2018 from big name companies like Razer, Logitech and Tesla, who all want a piece of what is an ever-growing pie, a pie which forecasters have predicted may be worth $71 million come 2025.
However, 2019 looks set to build on all this progress and finally push wireless charging into the mainstream.
The first major example of this is the recent revelations about Apple's AirPower – their mutli-device wireless charging pad.
Recent sources indicate that AirPower may be in production phase and ready to ship by the end of Q1. This was despite multiple anticipated release dates in 2018 that never came to fruition. Many enthusiasts had given up completely when all mention of AirPower was absent from the Apple product event in December despite it having been pitched at the same expo the year before.
But as of a tweet from ChargerLAB on January 12th it became apparent that Hong Kong manufacturer Luxshare Precision might be in the process of creating the first AirPower pads, with a follow up tweet detailing that Pegatron would also start production from January 21st. Mention of the “AirPower Wireless Charging Mat” in the online description of the new iPhone XS battery case also indicates that Apple are still keen to get this product on the market.
The reason this is so important for wireless charging is that AirPower promises to offer technology unseen before in wireless charging. Yes, pads already exist that can charge two devices at once, but there has never been a technology that has allowed for complete freedom of positioning of multiple devices with different coil sizes all on the same surface. This kind of technology has many implications for the development of wireless charging and Apple have already indicated that they would make this technology accessible to the market should they pull it off.
It does seem though that if AirPower ships it should be able to achieve this, with reports suggesting it will have a three-layered coil design with 8 coils on the top layer and 7 on the two below.
Although we’re very much focused on the smartphone aspect of wireless charging here at The Wireless Solution, EV charging is also a hugely exciting prospect as it opens up inductive technology to an even wider audience.
With governments such as the UK looking to replace all petrol burning cars with electric vehicles by 2030, wireless charging could provide the easiest solution to powering all these cars. Bloomberg has predicted that 559 million electric vehicles will be on the road by 2040 and wireless charging would receive a significant boost if it could capture even a fraction of this market.
2018 saw some developments for EV wireless charging with BMW launching the world’s first inductive charging pad for plug-in hybrid vehicles and the announcement by the Office for Low Emission Vehicles and Innovate UK of a $53million project to test EV charging solutions in the UK. On the whole though, progress was slow with few manufacturers creating new wireless charging EVs and no further news on the wireless charging Mercedez-Benz cars that were promised back in 2017.
However, 2019 looks to be far more promising:
We have already heard that Volvo has invested in Pennsylvania based wireless charging firm Momentum Dynamics, a company that specialises in “high power wireless charging of electric vehicles.”
Honda has partnered with WiTricity and showcased their Vehicle-to-Grid energy management system at CES 2019.
In the UK it’s been announced that the power network services will work with UPS, High Speed 1 and WMG on a new project that will test the efficacy of using EV wireless charging on London roads.
In addition, Hyundai and Kia have unveiled a project they’ve been working on that combines EV wireless charging with an “Automated Valet Parking System (AVPS)”, a technology that will automatically locate your car onto a charging spot.
Oppo Joins the WPC
As mentioned, we saw the three big smartphone brands Xiaomi, Google and Huawei rally under the Qi banner in 2018, and now smartphones without the universal Qi standard built in are a definite minority.
It seems that trend will continue in 2019 as Smartphone manufacturer Oppo have already announced their entry into the Wireless Power Consortium. They even filed a patent last year for 15W wireless charging technology so expect a Qi fast charging phone on its way soon.
On top of this, Oppo and OnePlus also operate under the same parent company and frequently share resources with each other so this could be mean OnePlus, another smartphone giant, may soon join the ranks of the Wireless Power Consortium as well.
2018 was an eventful year for wireless charging but from the flood of news we’ve seen already this year it appears that 2019 could be even more exciting.
With AirPower redefining what is possible for smartphone charging, with wireless charging finally making its imprint in the electric vehicle market and with more smartphone manufacturers joining the Wireless Power Consortium, the wireless charging market will continue to expand indefinitely.
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- Tags: AirPower, Apple, BMW, CES 2019, EV Charging, Google, Huawei, Logitech, Mercedez-Benz, OnePlus, Oppo, Qi, Razer, Volvo, Wireless Power Consortium, WiTricity, Xiaomi