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.

Top Rated Comments

stewy Avatar
89 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
89 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
89 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
89 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
89 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
89 months ago
"It's incredibly safe!"
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Related Stories

studio buds family

Beats Studio Buds Debuting Today With Active Noise Cancellation, Stemless Design, and More for $150

Monday June 14, 2021 8:00 am PDT by
We've seen a lot of teasers about the Beats Studio Buds over the past month since they first showed up in Apple's beta software updates, and today they're finally official. The Beats Studio Buds are available to order today in red, white, and black ahead of a June 24 ship date, and they're priced at $149.99. The Studio Buds are the first Beats-branded earbuds to truly compete with AirPods...
airtag in hand

Apple Enhancing AirTags Anti-Stalking Measures With Android App and Shorter Sound Intervals

Thursday June 3, 2021 11:10 am PDT by
Apple is enhancing AirTags security to prevent stalking using the Bluetooth devices, Apple told CNET today. Apple is already sending out over-the-air updates to AirTags that will shorten the amount of time before an unknown AirTag alerts you if it is in your possession. At the current time, AirTags play a sound after three days of being away from their owner. After the update, AirTags will...
maxresdefault

Here's How Apple's New iPhone to iPhone Data Migration Feature Works in iOS 12.4

Tuesday July 23, 2019 1:20 pm PDT by
Apple this week released iOS 12.4, the newest version of iOS 12 available for iPhones and iPads. One of the new features in iOS 12.4 is an updated data migration option that uses device to device transfers rather than relying on iCloud. Apple didn't provide much information on the new data migration feature, so we thought we'd check it out in our latest YouTube video. Subscribe to the ...
youtube apple tv

YouTube Discontinuing 3rd-Generation Apple TV App, AirPlay Still Available

Wednesday February 3, 2021 3:09 pm PST by
YouTube is planning to stop supporting its YouTube app on the third-generation Apple TV models, where YouTube has long been available as a channel option. A 9to5Mac reader received a message about the upcoming app discontinuation, which is set to take place in March.Starting early March, the YouTube app will no longer be available on Apple TV (3rd generation). You can still watch YouTube on...
tmobilelogo

T-Mobile Data Breach Included Personal Information of Almost 50 Million Customers

Wednesday August 18, 2021 5:41 am PDT by
T-Mobile has issued a statement with further details about a cyberattack that the company confirmed earlier this week, confirming that the data breach included the personal information of almost 50 million current, former, and prospective customers. Late last week, T-Mobile confirmed that a forum post that purported to offer data from more than 100 million people was the result of a company...
airtag precision finding

AirTag Includes U1 Chip for 'Precision Finding' Feature

Tuesday April 20, 2021 12:11 pm PDT by
Apple's long-awaited AirTag was finally unveiled today, and as expected, the small circle-shaped accessories can be attached to items like wallets, keys, and more to allow them to be tracked in the Find My app. As was rumored ahead of release, each AirTag is equipped with a U1 chip, and on devices that also have U1 chips, there's a Precision Finding feature. U1 Ultra Wideband chips are...
m1 macbook air

Kuo: Mini-LED MacBook Air Coming in Mid-2022

Thursday July 22, 2021 7:48 pm PDT by
Apple will release a new version of the MacBook Air around the middle of 2022, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said today in note to investors seen by MacRumors. The upcoming MacBook Air will feature a 13.3-inch mini-LED display, which would make it the second Mac to gain mini-LED technology after the 2021 MacBook Pro, which is rumored to include a mini-LED display and is expected to launch later ...
Apple Films Tom Hanks Finch First Look

Apple Original Film 'Finch' Starring Tom Hanks to Premiere November 5

Thursday August 12, 2021 8:52 am PDT by
Apple today announced that the original film "Finch," starring Tom Hanks in its titular role, will premiere on Apple TV+ on Friday, November 5 and shared a first-look image from the film. The first look at "Finch," shared by Apple. The film, which is anticipated to be an awards season contender, revolves around a man, a robot (played by "Get Out" actor Caleb Landry Jones), and a dog that form ...
2016 macbook pro flexgate b

Apple Faces Another Class-Action MacBook Pro ‘Flexgate’ Lawsuit

Thursday August 20, 2020 6:43 am PDT by
Another class-action complaint has been lodged against Apple, which claims that the company was aware of a MacBook Pro design flaw that caused some devices to have backlight display issues (via Apple Insider). The so-called "flexgate" problem was present in some MacBook Pro models manufactured between 2016 and 2017. The problem appears as dark patches along the bottom of the MacBook Pro's...
macbook air m1 first benchmark

Apple Silicon M1 Chip in MacBook Air Outperforms High-End 16-Inch MacBook Pro

Wednesday November 11, 2020 4:43 pm PST by
Apple introduced the first MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Mac mini with M1 Apple Silicon chips yesterday, and as of today, the first benchmark of the new chip appears to be showing up on the Geekbench site. The M1 chip, which belongs to a MacBook Air with 8GB RAM, features a single-core score of 1687 and a multi-core score of 7433. According to the benchmark, the M1 has a 3.2GHz base...