The charge of wireless technology

By Steve Jarratt, Technology Writer

The wireless technology landscape now extends much further than our Bluetooth-powered AirPods.

The idea of ‘wireless’ technology has changed significantly over the years. The first application of the wireless transmission of information dates back to the early 1800s, with the invention of wireless telegraphy. ‘Wireless’ then became associated with radio receivers, before migrating to digital networks with the arrival of mobile telephony and wireless computing. 

Wireless technology from A (AirPods) to Z (Zigbee)

And this is where things really get interesting. Because the wireless landscape now extends much further than our Bluetooth-powered AirPods, 4G/5G mobile data plans and ubiquitous Wi-Fi hotspots. We have Wireless HDMI and Intel WiDi for video transmission, Radio-Frequency IDentification (RFID) for object tracking, NFC for contactless payments, Zigbee/Z-Wave for smart home networking and low-powered LoRaWAN connectivity for IoT.

    As a result, wireless technology has moved beyond computers and cellphones to feature in TVs, games consoles and joypads, music players, headphones, watches, cameras, toys, refrigerators, cookers, smart home devices, robots and in-car entertainment systems. At CES 2021, for example, we saw the launch of the Toto Wellness Toilet (with companion app) [1] and the MyQ Pet Portal [2], a $3,000 doggy door that supports live video streaming and two-way audio.

    New technology, new possibilities

    Wireless technology has the potential to add new functionality and new possibilities. With Wi-Fi connectivity, the iKettle can be activated by voice control or set to boil at a specified time, while the wireless Ring Video Doorbell enables you to answer the door via your cell phone. And by adding Bluetooth to its CubieDuo and CubieTrio charging alarm clocks, Brandstand’s new CubieDuo+ and CubieTrio+ models now include a wireless speaker for easy audio playback.

    Better wireless charging with Brandstand power and charging products.

    The latest chapter in the wireless revolution is the transmission of power. The key elements of our digital life – smartphones, laptops, tablets – all run on batteries, and it seems odd to plug in a power supply when everything else is cable-free. Wireless charging is the current answer to this power problem and the technology is rising in popularity. So much so, while the global market was valued at $6.5 billion in 2018, it is expected to top $40 billion by 2027. [3]

    The rise of Qi Wireless technology

    The globally-adopted Qi Wireless charging technology uses inductive charging to power up devices through close contact. You can find it in a range of modern cell phones (see our handy Wireless Charging Guide for a comprehensive list) and in a wide array of charging products. These can include:

    • Wireless charging pads - A tabletop Qi Wireless Charger like the Brandstand CubieDot is the simplest and most cost-effective way to add wireless charging to a room.

    • Wireless charging stations - Larger solutions like the Brandstand CubieVia offer wireless charging with the addition of two tamper resistant power outlets and a pair of USB charging ports for powering multiple devices.

    • Wireless charging alarm clocks - The Brandstand CubieTrio+ is the ultimate multi-functional device, incorporating an alarm clock and Bluetooth speaker, plus Qi Wireless charging, 2x power outlets and 2x USB charging ports for all power/charging needs. 

    How do you know if a device is Qi-rated? Just look for the ‘Qi’ logo (see the CubieDuo+ below). Or check the Wireless Power Consortium website [4] for a list of all Qi certified products. 

    The Brandstand CubieDuo+ combines wired and Qi Wireless charging with a Bluetooth speaker.
    The Brandstand CubieDuo+ combines wired (USB) and Qi Wireless charging with a Bluetooth speaker.

    The future of wireless charging

    But that’s not the end of the wireless charging story. Beyond inductive pads and mats, the next step is to send this power across larger distances. Companies like Energous [5] and Xiaomi [6] are working on over-the-air charging/wireless energy transmission, enabling compatible devices to be charged whenever they are within a certain range of an antenna array (with some systems, as much as 15 feet from the transmitter). 

    Another key area for wireless charging is electric cars, a market estimated to be worth more than $802 billion by 2027 [7]. Imagine simply driving your car onto the driveway or into the garage and leaving it to charge overnight without lifting a finger. WiTricity’s magnetic resonance technology does just that. [8]

    Wireless charging and connectivity are efficient and convenient, but they also open up new engineering opportunities. It’s suggested that Apple could introduce a completely wireless iPhone within the next two years [9], which makes complete sense: It already communicates wirelessly, has wireless earbuds, and can charge wirelessly. So why not remove the ports completely and make it lighter, thinner and totally waterproof?

    If that is the future of phones, then wireless charging is certainly the future of powering them.

    Discover Brandstand’s versatile range of wireless charging products.

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