Unshackle your mobile phone charger!

31st May 2015
Unshackle your  mobile phone charger!

Tech Trend: Thanks to  new wireless technology, you can soon  throw away that  mobile charging cable

Bangalore,  June 1 2015: You may remember  'Gulliver's Travels'  from your school years. In Jonathan Swift's 18th century  savage satire, the people of Lilliput are divided into two warring camps: the Big Enders  who broke their breakfast   eggs at the larger end and the Litte Enders who did ditto at the small end.  There were six civil wars between the  fierce adherents of both techniques.
Indians today, who between them,  own  almost a billion mobile phones,  are divided into  two camps: those who charge their phones  with  flat tipped cables and those whose cables come with a round tip.  The Roundians are further divided into multiple groups depending on the size of the  round pin. So at airports, railway stations and other public places, if your phone battery runs dry, you head for that free charging station -- a festoon of dozens of  charging cables and  fight for one that matches your phone. Can it get more  ridiculous than this?  Can't phone makers agree on a single standard for the charger cable?  They can't or won't -- so  we   can only hope  we  could threw out the cable entirely and   find a neater way of  recharging phone batteries.
It seems our prayers have been answered: wireless chargers are here.  They  come in the form of  small   palm-sized charging pads.   Place your phone on the  pad  and it gets charged  wirelessly. In fact you can place 2-3 phones on the pad to charge them simultaneously. 
What's the trick?  It's a technology called Qi (pronounced 'Chie'), a Chinese word  which means 'natural energy. The technical term  is 'induction charging'.  The  charger pad includes  a coil which  transmits charge over a short distance.  The phone  has a special coil which couples wirelessly with the charging  coil and absorbs the  charge.
Qi is now emerging as the standard for wireless charging.  Online sellers like Amazon, eBay, Snapdeal, FlipKart offer  nice looking wireless charger pads   which promise to fully charge a phone in around 3 hours. The prices start at around Rs 500.
The only catch is, your phone  must have the matching Qi coil.    The Qi standard is endorsed by Micrsoft, Samsung, HTC, Motorola, LG,  Asus, Blackberry, Sony, Verizon etc  -- so  pretty soon most popular phone makes will be Qi-ready. As it is,  phones like Lumia 920, LG Nexus 4 &5.
If your current phone is non Qi,  say the Samsung Galaxy series,  you can buy a Qi chip separately and install it  under the back cover  to make  it  wireless charge -ready.  I'm guessing by next year  all new phones will allow wireless charging.  In fact  as they are doing with power banks, some phone makers are launching their own branded  charging pads or 'pillows'. 
High fashion has embraced the idea.  Furniture maker Ikea has embedded a Qi charger into some of its tables, desks and lamps. It'll soon be time to throw that charging cable away --  flat pinned, round pinned or whatever -- Anand Parthasarathy
For a few days we have an explanatory video in our Tech Video spot on the Home Page
Link to info on Qi
See our sidebar on Solar Chargers