Introduction to Wireless Power Transfer: Benefits, Markets, and Applications

Wireless power transfer is a hot new topic in the electronics industry. In this blog post, learn the benefits, markets, and applications of wireless power.

What Is Wireless Power Transfer?

First and foremost, let’s define what wireless power transfer is and how it works.

As you may have guessed, wireless power transfer is the transmission of electrical energy from a power source to an electrical device without the use of cord conductors. Since wireless charging is such a widespread need among both consumers and businesses, the technology is constantly improving and becoming more common in industries all across the board.

So how does wireless power work? Fundamentally, it uses a basic concept most engineers are very familiar with: Faraday’s law of induction. This law states that a changing magnetic field causes an AC current.

There are two coils involved in wireless power transfer: a receiver and a transmitter. These coils act more or less like inductors. You could think of them as a transformer without a core; essentially, they are just two air coils that are inductively coupled.

Benefits of Wireless Power

There are several important benefits of wireless power transfer.

For one, wireless power allows you to completely seal your device. Whether you’re looking to get rid of a power port, remove something you don’t want in the system, or advance your product from water-resistant to waterproof, wireless power could be your perfect solution.

For another, wireless power means less cord clutter. Since each mobile device typically requires its own charging cord, many of us are constantly tripping over (or searching for) chargers in our homes. Wireless power eliminates those problems by providing one universal, cordless power solution for all those devices.

Another key benefit to wireless power is the highly expandable power range it offers. No longer just a low-power solution, wireless power offers a multitude of real-world applications with anywhere from 0 to over 200W of power transfer. The level of efficiency is thus very high.

The last major benefit of wireless power is increased product life. By eliminating the physical limitations of connectors (like mating cycles, corrosion on contact points, and the like), wireless power offers a more robust product to design manufacturers.

Market Trends for Wireless Power

Wireless power transfer is still a relatively new phenomenon. In 2012, the market started very small and was comprised entirely of consumer applications (basically phones and tablets). In 2015, the market grew to just under $1 billion.

Today, growth for 2016 is projected to exceed $1 billion. By 2022, wireless power is expected to achieve aggressive growth of over $5 billion. It will most likely continue to be dominated by the consumer market, though it is hoped to expand to the industrial and automotive markets.

Examples of Wireless Power Applications

There are countless applications for wireless power transfer. Here are just a few examples of what companies are currently trying to achieve:

  • Starbucks: phone charging stations at coffee tables
  • Qi: cordless kitchen appliances for the home
  • Bosch: cordless power drills for construction sites
  • Delphi: in-cabin phone charging and infotainment systems for vehicles
  • IKEA: integrated furniture and lighting for entirely wireless homes

To learn more about wireless power transfer, check out our wireless power solutions from Wurth Electronics Midcom, and stay tuned to our blog!