New methods of contactless energy transfer and battery charging are transforming the way we experience technology at home, in the office and on the go. Whether it’s powering an electric vehicle without having to plug it in or charging your fitness band without ever having to take it off, these wireless power technologies are making significant inroads into our everyday lives. .
The past year, however, was marked by substantial progress: notably, the NFC Forum, the global association for the standardization and defense of Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, announced the Wireless Charging Specification (WLC) 2.0. in October. The WLC 2.0 makes it easier and easier to charge low-power devices, such as wireless headphones, smartwatches, digital pens, headsets, and fitness trackers. WLC 2.0 also supports even smaller antenna sizes, expanding the range of small battery-powered consumer and IoT devices that can be charged wirelessly using a smartphone and other NFC-enabled devices. This was groundbreaking announcement, enabling device manufacturers and solution providers to design smaller, lighter, and more affordable wireless products that can communicate and charge with smartphones and other NFC-enabled devices.
Advances in NFC technology are also starting to impact design and manufacturing. Since NFC charging solves so many problems associated with current wireless charging methods, the physical charging contacts and connectors can be removed, improving the durability and waterproofness of the device, which is especially important for portable health and fitness devices. Additionally, by being able to transfer power and data over the air, designers can develop wireless uART solutions, eliminating the need for data ports and enabling seamless debugging, testing and software updates. wire.
2021 has shown the extent of wireless power applicability in a number of industries, but only deepened its potential an inch. Next year will see us go further, with a number of exciting changes expected.
Physical connectors were invented over 125 years ago – before we drove Model Ts and the radio was not yet invented. While the last five years have brought significant evidence of a change (iPhones, headphones, EVs, wearable devices, etc.), 2022 is the time when consumer devices begin to catch up with the early adopters of revolutionary wireless technology. .
Connectors, while originally convenient, are now primarily used as vulnerabilities for devices. While they allow engineers to access the inner workings of a device, physical connectors also make devices less durable, less waterproof, and more expensive to build and maintain. The adoption of wireless connectors brings both advantages in terms of design and use, making devices more stylish, more durable and more waterproof; and also less cluttered with cables. Wearable devices such as fitness bracelets, medical devices, and headphones will be among the first to adopt them, as their small size and low power requirements are extremely well suited to the benefits of wireless charging.
The phone will also become the charger
Advances in NFC wireless charging technology – and in particular, WLC 2.0 – will establish a new category of wireless charging over the next year or so, as smartphones become charging transmitters for small space-limited devices like headphones, fitness bands and styluses.
Big tech companies are also taking note, as many of the major smartphone makers also produce headphones, glasses, and wearable devices. This emerging NFC ecosystem will be mutually beneficial, using NFC as a platform for the transfer of data and energy between devices and enhancing the user experience.
The concept of a connectorless smartphone – and especially one that also charges your portable devices – may seem like a fantasy to those of us with plugged-in smartphones sitting at our desks, but that future is much closer than we realize. let’s think. Apple recently filed a patent to incorporate wireless charging capabilities into Macbooks and iPads, allowing these products to charge mobile devices, like phones, watches, and headphones.
NFC charging ushers in a new standard and user experience across all devices, leveraging the power of wireless charging to deliver streamlined and more durable charging capabilities.
Be progressive passive
Smartphones and other personal electronics like fitness trackers, smart watches, and hearing aids have an increasing number of sensors inside. These do everything from motion detection to vital signs measurement and more. Typically, the sensors in these devices are active components, making them more resource intensive than passive sensing activity.
As electronics manufacturers advance ESG initiatives designed to eliminate waste and streamline efficiency, passive sensing platforms represent a potentially attractive solution. The opportunity becomes even more exciting as we see more and more parts shortages due to global supply chain challenges, as these passive components also represent an alternative design path for product developers. Ultimately, these passive sensor platforms will be a positive step in addressing important consumer, business and environmental concerns.
Supply chain problems stifle innovation
Speaking of the supply chain, unfortunately our problems are far from over. Not only will the current logistics problems persist, but the macro influence of the supply chain crisis is about to have an even greater impact.
Beyond product shortages, supply chain issues will inevitably disrupt large-scale innovation. Imagine that you are a product developer in a large computer hardware company. As you wonder how to pivot as shipments of crisps and other product components slow – or even stop – you are forced to put plans for the future on hold, as you scramble to make sure products current ones can hit the shelves. Trying to solve this shortage and keep existing lines in operation severely limits the time and resources available to devote to research and development of new and innovative products.
Large companies with large budgets will intelligently call on specialists outside their organizations to maintain innovation, while small organizations will be stuck between a rock and a hard place.
As wireless power technology continues to advance, we’ll see a range of new applications as product developers see the benefits of transferring power (and data) without physical connectors. Of course, there will always be challenges to overcome. But as we head into 2022, we expect giant leaps in our industry.