By Steve Jarratt, Technology Writer
Wireless charging might still feel like clever new tech, but it’s actually been around since Nikola Tesla wirelessly transmitted electricity in 1894 . However, with the exception of electric toothbrushes, it’s long been a technology in search of a game changing purpose.
Enter the smartphone. Many new phones now include wireless charging options as standard. These include devices from Apple, Google, Huawei, LG, Motorola, Samsung, Sony and Xiaomi, which all adhere to the popular ‘Qi’ standard - see our Wireless Charging Guide.
For hotels that are already providing charging solutions for their guests, Qi Wireless charging is the next step in convenience..
What is Qi Wireless charging?
Qi is derived from the Chinese word for ‘life force’ or ‘energy flow’ and is pronounced ‘chee’. Developed by the Wireless Power Consortium, Qi uses ‘inductive charging’, a system whereby an electric current creates a fluctuating magnetic field in a charging pad. This field induces an electrical current in any compatible device placed on the pad, providing 5-15W of power to charge the battery.
The technology was first adopted back in 2012 by Nokia and Samsung, but it is now well established. If proof were needed, the Wireless Power Consortium is backed by more than 650 major tech companies and there are now over 3,700 Qi-certified products on the market . These include: smartphones, wireless earphones, smartwatches, tablets, charging alarm clocks, car charger mounts, power banks and charging pads.
Why do hotels need Qi Wireless charging?
Wireless charging is ideal for the hospitality industry, especially as today’s travellers increasingly rely on smartphones and tablets for information, booking and storing tickets, and – especially in a post-COVID world – to access their rooms and log in to digital guest services.
For guests, wireless charging is simple and wonderfully convenient. The Qi 1.2 standard supports Samsung 10W (Fast Charge) and Apple 7.5W charging, with newer Samsung phones able to support the maximum 15W draw. Supporting wireless charging means guests don’t need to go back to their cables, taking advantage of technology they probably already use at home.
For hotels, wireless charging is not only simple, it’s cost efficient. There are no exposed electrical connections to wear out or break, and charging pads are also watertight with no moving parts. This makes them hygienic and robust. Admittedly, charging a device wirelessly is slightly slower than using a traditional power cord. But this is outweighed by the general practicality, reliability and the sheer ease-of-use that wireless charging delivers.
Safety is also a watchword. The Qi Wireless standard enjoys wide industry support and the Wireless Power Consortium enforces strict certification procedures. This ensures that all Qi-certified charging products are built to high standards of safety and are compatible with all Qi-certified devices.
Where can hotels use Qi Wireless charging?
There are numerous places where wireless charging can improve the guest experience and various charging devices that can be deployed. The most obvious location is in guest rooms, where charging pads can be incorporated into desks, lamps, bedside tables, or are available as an extra feature in some alarm clocks.
Elsewhere, Qi Wireless technology can be installed in hotel lobbies, where guests often linger to check in/out, meet with friends or catch up with work. Similarly, adding charging pads to counter tops in bars and restaurants gives visitors the ability to top up their devices as they drink and eat.
What's the easiest way for hotels to get started?
Brandstand offers a number of suitable devices, from dedicated charging pads to alarm clocks with wireless charging built in. Hotels can simply plug them in, secure them in place if necessary, and add another bullet point to their list of guest-friendly features.
Add a wireless charging pad to any hotel room with the Brandstand CubieTrio.
In terms of charging pads, Brandstand offers the CubieDot, the CubiePoint (which also includes two USB ports) and the CubieSpot tabletop charger, all providing a neat and elegant solution onto which guests simply place their device. The CubieDot and CubiePoint can be located anywhere near a power outlet, while the CubieSpot can be fitted flush into a desk or bedside table for the ultimate in secure, discreet charging.
An even more practical solution is one of Brandstand’s multifunction alarm clocks, such as the CubieDuo (EU,UK & US) and CubieTrio (US only). Both devices provide Qi wireless pads and USB charging ports, plus an easy-to-use alarm clock with snooze and dimmer operations. The CubieTrio goes one better, boasting a pair of power sockets embedded into its top surface, making it ideal for even the most demanding gadget-loving guest.
The future of wireless charging
It’s estimated that the global wireless charging market will be worth £30 billion by 2026 , driven by the continued expansion of the smartphone market and the growth of wearables.
The next step is to transmit more power, which is why the Wireless Power Consortium is also working on a more powerful version for kitchen appliances, dubbed ‘Ki’. This will wirelessly deliver up to 2200 watts of power to smart cordless kitchen gadgets, such as rice cookers, toasters, blenders and coffee makers.
After that, the aim is to offer wireless charging over larger distances . Companies like Energous  are working on over-the-air charging, which can power compatible devices within a range of 15 meters, while WiTricity  is aiming to charge your electric car via a powered mat on the garage floor, or perhaps embedded in a car parking space.
The technology works, and it’s only a matter of time before we see charge points discreetly located in hotel foyers, lounges and restaurants, quietly charging guests’ devices. In fact, many hotels are already using the technology - Marriott has had wireless charging pads in some of its hotel lobbies since 2014 , while key Premier Inns have wireless charging technology integrated into their hotel bars.
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