Wireless Charging Just Got an Upgrade… But is That Good?
Wireless charging seems to be a perfect idea – imagine if someday, our devices would never run out of charge? This may be why such aggressive progress has been made toward building a better battery charger. However, not everyone is convinced that wireless charging will have the effects that are desired of it.
Where the Technology Stands Now
Wireless charging capabilities are fairly common at this point in time. Many mobile devices now have the built-in capability to be charged wirelessly, as long as they are positioned properly on a special charging pad. However, a company called Ossia has been formed to develop wireless charging that can take place at a distance via trickle charging capabilities.
This method of delivering power leverages radio frequencies to send both data and power to the connected device. Taking advantage of this newly developed potential, Ossia has worked to develop new conduits to deliver this power, leaving the charging pads typical of wireless charging in favor of a wider variety of devices under its Cota line. Instead of requiring the device to be physically touching the power source in order to charge, signals are bounced around objects in the environment to deliver both power and Wi-Fi connectivity.
Ossia’s new charging system includes components like AA batteries that can be charged wirelessly, as well as drop ceiling tiles that send the signals out to the devices.
Is This Necessarily a Good Thing?
Of course, there is no questioning the convenience that this kind of technology could provide (especially if it was standardized), but there is the question of the affect it could have on the device. Take smartphones, for instance: what does constantly keeping a device’s battery fully charged ultimately do to the device in question?
Unfortunately, nothing good. While “overcharging” is no longer a concern, the makeup of modern batteries means that they can still suffer some damage. The explanation lies in its chemistry.
Lithium-ion batteries have three essential components to their proper operation: a positive and negative electrode (made of a lithium-based compound and carbon graphite, respectively) and some kind of electrolyte. As the battery charges, lithium ions move from the positive electrode to the negative electrode via the electrolyte to be stored as energy. When this power is used, the ions move back to the positive electrode.
Over time, this process wears away the electrolyte that allows the ions to move back and forth, ultimately preventing them from doing so efficiently (or even successfully). Without the ions being able to move, the battery isn’t going to work as well. As a result of this phenomenon, every battery only has a certain number of charge cycles in it before it is rendered ineffective.
The argument is that, by constantly charging the battery, wireless charging eats away at the battery’s lifespan. Others argue that keeping the battery topped off actually allows the battery to remain effective for longer. Some take the argument one step further to say that the convenience of a fully-charged device is worth the cost of a replacement battery if need be.