The global wireless charging market is expected to witness explosive growth, with estimates that total revenues will surpass the US$ 10 billion mark by 2020. Wireless charging market’s lucrativeness can be gauged from the fact that everyone – from mobile phone makers to furniture companies – are working towards offering wireless charging services.
Wireless charging is expected to transform our charging needs in the same manner in which WiFi and Bluetooth simplified our connectivity needs. However, lack of standardisation is a key challenge in the market currently. Prior to July, 2015, there were 3 standards in the wireless charging industry – Wireless Power Consortium, Power Matters Alliance, and Alliance for Wireless Power. The merger of the latter two earlier this year has helped in cutting competition, however, Wireless Power Consortium still follows its own standard Qi (pronounced “chee”).
Although lack of a universal standard can play a minor role in impeding the growth of the market, the frantic race to develop and incorporate wireless charging is a clear sign of how big the market will be in the near future. Audi, GM, and Toyota are offering wireless chargers in their latest cars, whereas IKEA, the global furniture behemoth, is incorporating inductive chargers in its tables, desks, and other products. McDonald’s has already introduced wireless charging systems complying with Wireless Power Consortium’s Qi in its UK restaurants.
Although awareness about wireless chargers was low before 2015, the buzz created by Samsung Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, and Apple Watch has rubbed off on consumers. In the last one year or so, more consumers have become aware of wireless chargers and are actively seeking out places that offer the services. For example, in Japan, travel websites are guiding tourists to hotels and restaurants that offer wireless charging. The hospitality industry in developed regions is expected to witness high adoption of wireless charging devices in the future.
Currently, most of the smartphones that offer wireless charging support are flagship models. None of the mid-range and low-budget smartphones are built for cordless charging. However, innovation in manufacturing technology and fall in component prices is expected to make wireless chargers more affordable in the future.
Another aspect that needs to be factored in when talking about inductive chargers is the time it takes to juice up a device. Compared to conventional, wired chargers, cordless chargers take longer time to fully charge a device. This is one area where manufacturers will have to focus on to ensure a positive consumer experience.
The Future of Wireless Charging
There was a time when WiFi hotspots were a novelty and only a small percentage of consumers had those high-end devices that could connect to wireless networks. However, a culmination of a host of factors, such as consumer awareness, fall in smartphone prices, adoption by retail and hospitality industry made the technology all-pervasive. Today, manufacturers don’t sell their phones by claiming “WiFi compatible!” – It has become ubiquitous and every smartphone out there has it. In the next five years, we can expect wireless chargers to achieve the same pervasiveness. The tangled wires that we so despise of will very soon become a thing of the past.