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
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