Wireless Powered Cell Phones

Your cell phone uses a lot more power when connecting a call than when it is has a low cell signal. Often, your battery can be strong enough to attempt a call, but not strong enough to find a signal. Bad cellular signals are a big contributor to battery drain problems. The weaker the signal the more battery drain. The stronger the cellular signal the less battery drain. It's amazing to me how many iPhone users tolerate their poor battery life and purchase external batteries.

The technology industry has invested a lot of marketing energy and dollars into getting consumers excited about wireless power, the promise is that it will free us from the size and feature constraints imposed by batteries. There’s a consortium of bigwigs from Nokia to Dell trying to advance a standard called Qi, and Intel and WiTricity are trying to develop an even more compelling technology that will transfer power over the air. But we’re still a long way from cutting the cord.

Consumers intent on living a wireless life have two new options this holiday season — both of which are getting a lot of attention: mats on which they can wirelessly charge their mobile devices. Unfortunately, this sounds far cooler than it really is. The two products — the Powermat, which goes on sale Sunday at Amazon, and the Duracell MyGrid, which went on sale earlier this month — use different techniques to charge a device, but both require the mat to be plugged into an outlet, which eliminates the wire to the device, but not the one to the wall.

After years of hope (and no little amount of hype), wireless power is finally getting into consumer's hands. However, the technology that is showing up on trade show floors and store shelves is a far cry from the truly disruptive promise of wireless power. As we cram more computing power into our mobile phones and use them to deliver the web, take photos and shoot video (as well as talk), a key limitation has become the battery. Anyone who has experienced a three-hour battery life after surfing on a Wi-Fi network knows first-hand that battery life can impede the enjoyment of a full-featured mobile device. And that problem is the one that wireless power will one day solve.

Below is a comparison of total system efficiencies versus the transmitting range of the various technologies. Efficiency describes how much power is wasted and how much heat is dissipated during power transmission. Inductive systems have the highest system efficiencies of any wireless system.

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