Say goodbye to those pesky charger cables

Say goodbye to those pesky charger cables

From Wi-Fi to Bluetooth headsets, the future is clearly wireless.

But more than a century after inventor Nikola Tesla demonstrated wireless power, we are still charging our electronic gadgets using power cables.

Not having to plug in a mobile device to charge it means less wear and tear on charging ports.

Wearable devices can also do without charging ports. Gone are frayed and tangled charging cables.

More importantly, wireless charging is simply more convenient. You leave the device on the charging pad or stand and it juices up. Done.

The downside: it is slower than charging via a cable.

Wireless charging has been around for years. Back in 2009, smartphone pioneer Palm sold a phone with a companion charging dock. But the fragmented nature of wireless charging technology has stunted its adoption.

Android and Windows Phone devices use the Qi wireless power standard created by the Wireless Power Consortium.

Duracell Powermat makes wireless charging accessories for Apple iPhone and Samsung Galaxy devices. It belongs to the Power Matters Alliance (PMA), which counts Starbucks among its members. The coffee chain recently installed Powermat wireless charging pads in its San Francisco outlets and plans to expand to more cities in the US.

A third group, called the Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP), includes tech giants such as Qualcomm and Samsung. Its industry clout got a boost recently after it snagged Intel as a partner.

A4WP is pushing a magnetic resonance technology, unlike its rivals' method, which uses magnetic induction. The A4WP way can charge multiple devices at the same time and does not require direct contact between device and charger.

But the technology is not yet available in any consumer product.

Fortunately, there are signs of consolidation. A4WP and PMA signed an agreement earlier this year to ensure that their standards will be compatible.

An outside bet is the start-up, Ossia. Its Cota wireless power technology taps the 2.4GHz band used by Wi-Fi to transmit power to devices. Ossia recently demonstrated the ability to transmit 1W of power over a distance of 12m without direct line of sight and through doors and walls, just like Wi-Fi.

But at the moment, the best solution is the one you can buy. And that happens to be the Qi standard, which is supported by more devices, including flagship smartphones from Google, LG, Nokia and others.

Take a step towards getting rid of those pesky cables, using these devices and accessories.

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