Wireless Charging Looks to Go Mainstream in 2015

As the largest consumer electronics show in the world, CES often gives us a hint of the technologies we can look forward to in the near future, based on the products that are shown off at the show. In 2013 and 2014, there was a heavy focus on wearables, and this year's emphasis on home automation suggests 2015 will be a big year for connected home products.

There's one other important emerging technology that we may see explode over the course of the next few years -- wireless charging. Several companies, including Energous and WiTricity, demoed upcoming wireless charging solutions, and the Alliance for Wireless Power had a booth showing off how wireless charging will work in the Home of the Future.

MacRumors had a chance to sit down with Alex Gruzen, the CEO of WiTricity, who walked us through the company's technology, its existing partnerships, and gave us details on when we might see the debut of the first products using WiTricity's technology, which uses the Rezence specification agreed upon by the Alliance for Wireless Power. WiTricity's wireless charging solutions, which we have covered multiple times in the past, works using magnetic resonance, which is able to transfer power over distances using the magnetic near-field.


In the past, wireless charging solutions like the Powermat (which uses a competing technology from the Power Matters Alliance) have required the electronic device being charged to rest directly on the power source, but WiTricity's wireless charging technology is unique because it does not require direct contact. The magnetic field used for charging is able to wrap around barriers, letting WiTricity charging pads be placed in unassuming locations like under desks, rugs, tables, and more.

In our time at the WiTricity booth, we saw charging pads that were placed under concrete, under desks, and more, hidden out of sight but still capable of delivering a full charge to a device (or multiple devices at once) equipped with WiTricity's technology. This type of hidden charging technology is what we can expect in the future, and Energous, previously mentioned, also debuted a similar "WattUp" technology that uses radio frequencies to charge devices, replacing a charging pad with a transmitter that can provide power up to 15 feet away.

The Energous technology is quite new, but WiTricity has been working on its wireless charging solution for a number of years and already has several partners in the works. Intel, for example, is using WiTricity's technology in its upcoming Skylake processors, and according to Gruzen, we're going to see the first Ultrabooks able to charge wirelessly before the end of 2015 as a result of this deal.

witricitybooth2

The WiTricity CES booth

Apple itself uses Intel's processors for its range of Mac products and based on past history, it's likely that Apple will adopt Skylake processors, which means wireless charging for MacBooks is a possibility in the future. Apple has explored wireless charging based on past patents, and has even looked at a technology that's very similar to what WiTricity offers. Apple was rumored to be experimenting with wireless charging capabilities for the Apple Watch, but went with a MagSafe-style option instead, suggesting it isn't quite ready to adopt wireless charging technology at this point in time.

Apple is not a member of the Alliance for Wireless Power and does not work with WiTricity currently, making it unclear whether the company will develop a proprietary solution if it chooses to adopt wireless technology or use the standard that's been agreed upon by a huge number of tech companies including Intel, Panasonic, Acer, Broadcom, Microsoft, Dell, HP, Qualcomm, Fujitsu, Lenovo, LG, Samsung, and more.

witricitybooth1

WiTricity technology being used to charge a Smart Car

In addition to Intel, WiTricity has a range of high-profile partners and Gruzen expects those partnerships to result in a slew of products that use the company's technology in late 2015, like cell phones, electric vehicles, computers, and even accessories designed to work with Apple products. At CES, Gruzen demoed an iPhone 6 case the company's engineers had built to demonstrate how the technology could be used, which was similar in style to a Mophie charging case.

witricityiphone6case

iPhone 6 case concept built by WiTricity engineers

WiTricity's technology is essentially able to be used in any product that needs charging, ranging from the large to the small. Toyota's next Prius, coming in 2016, will allow its users to charge the car using a wireless charging pad powered by WiTricity's technology, and WiTricity also showed off packaging created in conjunction with Gillette. Razors were packaged with a pulsing blue LED charged on the shelf with a hidden charging pad, and were designed to draw the consumer's eye towards the product.

Gruzen showed MacRumors the chips that WiTricity has developed to enable wireless charging in a range of devices, which were paper thin and in some cases, tiny enough to be incorporated even into small wearable devices. In the very near future, likely before we see the end of 2015, wireless charging is going to make its debut in a big way.

In several years from now, it's quite possible that charging our electronic devices through cables and cords will be a thing of the past, replaced with technology that allows us to hide away charging pads or eliminate them all together. It isn't clear what stance Apple will take on wireless charging, but its inevitable adoption in the technology space suggests Apple won't be able to ignore it for long.

Popular Stories

iOS 18 CarPlay Feature

iOS 18 Adds These 5 New Features to CarPlay

Thursday June 13, 2024 7:44 am PDT by
Apple did not mention CarPlay during its WWDC keynote this week, but iOS 18 includes a handful of new features for the in-car software. Overall, there is not a whole lot new for CarPlay on iOS 18, with changes seemingly limited to the Messages and Settings apps so far. Below, we recap everything new for CarPlay on iOS 18. New for CarPlay on iOS 18 1. Contact Photos in Messages App...
apple watch series 9 display

Kuo: Apple Watch Series 10 to Get Larger Screen and Thinner Design

Monday June 17, 2024 1:20 am PDT by
This year's Apple Watch Series 10 will be thinner and come in larger screen sizes than previous models, according to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. In his latest industry note -10-and-98075c44ce92">shared on Medium, Kuo said the screen size options on the next-generation Apple Watch will increase from 41mm to 45mm, and from 45mm to 49mm, while being encased in a thinner design. For reference,...
iPod Nano vs iPod Pro Ad Feature 1

Apple Developing Thinner MacBook Pro, Apple Watch, and iPhone

Monday June 17, 2024 2:22 am PDT by
Apple intends to slim down the MacBook Pro, Apple Watch, and iPhone, with the new ultra-thin M4 iPad Pro a sign of the company's new design trajectory, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. When the M4 iPad Pro was unveiled last month, Apple touted it as the company's thinnest product ever, and even compared it to the 2012 iPod nano to emphasize its slim dimensions. Writing in the latest ...
iOS 18 Siri Integrated Feature

You Can Give Siri a New Name With iOS 18's Vocal Shortcuts

Friday June 14, 2024 4:33 pm PDT by
Apple in iOS 18 added a Vocal Shortcuts accessibility feature, and now that iOS 18 is available in a beta capacity, users have figured out that this option can be used to give Siri a new wake word. With Vocal Shortcuts, you can assign a custom phrase that Siri can understand to launch shortcuts and complete "complex tasks," and one of the shortcuts you can set up is an alternative for "Hey...
iOS 18 Wallet Feature

Here's What's New in Apple Wallet on iOS 18 for Event Tickets and More

Friday June 14, 2024 7:32 am PDT by
iOS 18 includes a handful of enhancements to the Wallet app on the iPhone, with new features for Apple Pay, Apple Cash, event tickets, and more. Below, we outline everything new for the Wallet app on iOS 18, based on information from Apple's press release and a WWDC 2024 coding session. Redesigned Event Tickets Event tickets have an all-new design in the Wallet app on iOS 18, complete...

Top Rated Comments

stewy Avatar
123 months ago
Prediction.

Apple comes out with its own flavor of wireless charging that doesn't work with anything else.
Score: 39 Votes (Like | Disagree)
cmChimera Avatar
123 months ago
I love how, before Apple adopts it, it's not mainstream. And as soon as Apple starts using it, it's "mainstream".

I've had wireless charging in my cellphone for over 2 years, and console's have been doing it for even longer. It's already mainstream, and most non-Apple high-end cellphones already have it as an option.

You didn't read the article did you?
Score: 30 Votes (Like | Disagree)
nutjob Avatar
123 months ago
Will it give everyone cancer like power lines do? Maybe it'll just erase all your credit cards and hard drives.
Score: 30 Votes (Like | Disagree)
rnizlek Avatar
123 months ago
I wonder what sort of efficiency loss wireless charging creates. I imagine it is not as efficient as directly connecting a cable. Obviously the actual loss will be quite small for something like a smartphone, but if they want to scale these to charge a smart car, it's a little more relevant.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
AppleScruff1 Avatar
123 months ago
Prediction.

Apple comes out with its own flavor of wireless charging that doesn't work with anything else.

You can bet the farm on that.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
lowercaseperson Avatar
123 months ago
"It's incredibly safe!"
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)