A company has unveiled a wireless charging system with three times the power of current models. It’s probably not quite enough for laptops yet, but shows the concept is scalable.
At the moment, wireless chargers are usually limited to five watts, which is about the same as you’d get in a dedicated wired phone charger. Dedicated wired tablet chargers can have a higher wattage; for example an iPad mini charger can deliver 10 watts.
(At the risk of screwing up through oversimplification, more watts at the same voltage means more amps, which in turn means the same capacity battery charges quicker.)
The result is that, as things stand, the best wireless chargers at the moment won’t top up a tablet as quickly as the best wired chargers.
That may change thanks to Freescale, which says it has produced a wireless charger chip that can work at 14 watts. It plans to make the chip available to manufacturers next year for use both in new devices and in accessories.
Freescale says it can tweak the chip to make it compatible with the widely-used QI standard for wireless charging. That will minimize the work manufacturers need to do to integrate the chip into their existing designs.
It’ll be up to manufacturers how to use the 14 watts. The industry buzz seems to be that while the new chip could technically allow for wireless charging on laptops, it would take too long to be practical. The most likely uses will be for cutting charging time on tablets and devices such as netbooks to a couple of hours, but it could also make wireless charging more practical for things like portable medical devices, power tools or digital cameras.
Freescale plans to keep on working on scaling the wattage to work effectively with devices such as laptops.