Cable-free future: Why your smartphone charger may soon be obsolete

  • Smartphones
  • Saturday, 18 Jan 2020

Notice this wireless charging pad has no cables coming out of it? Companies like Wi-Charge say radiation from their devices for remotely powering smartphones and other gadgets is completely harmless. — dpa

To charge your smartphone, you still need to have some kind of cable running power to it from an electrical socket. But several companies have touted the possibility that over-the-air charging will soon render chargers obsolete.

Start-ups like Guru and Wi-Charge have been busy showing off prototype devices that can transmit electricity entirely without wires.

These relatively small power sources can remotely power devices by bombarding them with high-frequency radio waves.

Imagine, for instance, a light bulb lighting up with no cables attached or a smartphone charging as you carry it around a room.

At this year's CES tech fair, GuRu displayed one of the first ready devices, which looks a bit like a desk lamp, while Wi-Charge touted its gadgets for wirelessly powering smart speakers like Amazon's Echo Dot and Google's Home Mini.

The companies emphasise that the radiation from such long-range wireless power sources is completely harmless for humans.

Still too inefficient

But while such products may mark a huge step forwards in how we power electric devices, they are also a step backwards in terms of efficiency.

That's because of all the electricity these power sources transmit, only a measly 10% actually arrives at the device, Wi-Charge admits.

In other words, to send one watt of electricity to a device, you need to send 10 watts to the system, nine of which are essentially wasted.

At a time when many consumers are looking for ways to reduce their energy consumption, the idea of as much as a ten-fold increase to your electricity bill seems like a big price to pay for no cables.

But if companies like Wi-Charge and GuRu can deliver an efficient means of powering devices, then they may just untether us from our wall sockets once and for all. – dpa

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