A world where benchtop blenders, toasters and kettles can be powered wirelessly is just a few years away according to Kevin Wong, General Manager of EziCharge Limited, a Hong Kong-based wireless charging company.
The popularity of wireless bluetooth and multiroom speakers, as well as cordless handstick vacuum cleaners makes clear that consumers are more than ready to do away with power cords. In the future power points in kitchens and bathrooms could disappear as well, by integrating the power source into the cabinetry.
Speaking at the Hong Kong Electronics Fair, Wong provided a timeline for wireless charging proliferation; currently wireless charging products on the market are suitable for 5 watt, or rather, charging smartphones. EziCharge will be releasing 15-20 watt charging products – suitable for tablets and PCs – later this year.
Also in the works are wireless power solutions for 100 watt for electric shavers, moving up to 300 watts for toasters, kettles and blenders. Even further into the future 1000 watts stove or rangehoods could also be powered wirelessly Wong said.
Aside from convenience of not having to untangle cords, the advantages of wireless power outlined by Wong include lower cost than installing AC outlets, eliminating the need to travel internationally with power adaptors and a reduced risk of fires caused by faulty wiring.
Needing both a transmitter and a receiver in the device to function, both appliance and consumer electronics manufacturers will need to adopt the compatible charging technology for a wireless power to enter the mainstream. Currently a large swathe of smartphone manufacturers have integrated the technology into their gadgets, and cafes and retailers have responded by installing charging mats in their premises. For example Starbucks in the US and some UK stores, has rolled out Duracell Powermat wireless charging zones, a natural evolution to providing free Wi-Fi to customers.
Ikea is set to sell furniture including bedside tables and lamps with wireless charging mats for smartphones and tablets.
However the potential for wireless charging is much more widespread; Audi, BMW, Mercedes are deploying the standard solution for wireless in-car charging starting this year.
In home appliances, Haier Wireless, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Haier Group, signed a deal in October 2014 with Energous to collaborate on applying WattUp transmitter technology in household appliances such as refrigerators, washing machines, dryers, microwaves, stoves and more. Energous Corporation is the developer of WattUp, a wire-free charging technology for electronic devices.
“WattUp is a natural fit for a wide range of Smart Home products,” said William Xu, CMO of Haier Wireless in a statement. “As Haier Wireless continues to make efforts and the wireless power industrial ecosystem continues to improve in the connected home market, Haier will accelerate industrialisation application of true wire-free charging technology. In our vision, WattUp-embedded Haier Wireless appliances would serve as transmitters for any WattUp-enabled device that is within range.”