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Wireless accessories: designed for life

Adam Fraser Published by Adam Fraser November 20, 2012

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Wireless accessories: designed for life

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69

Adam Fraser Published by Adam Fraser November 20, 2012

When it comes to using mobile phones, there are lots of things we do just naturally, as second nature. Plugging a cable into your phone to charge is one such activity, and it’s something we’d all like to not do anymore. That’s why Nokia has introduced wireless charging with the Nokia Lumia 920 and Nokia Lumia 820.

Noklia Lumia 920Wireless charging isn’t a new technology, but this is the first time that Nokia has used it in their portfolio.

The way that wireless charging works is that you just place your phone onto a charging pad, and it charges. That’s it. We’ve explained exactly how that works in a previous post, so check that out.

You may think that that’s no big deal, but it is, explains Markku Oksman, Head of Gear design:

“We want to improve people’s lives. By adding wireless charging to our devices, we’ve enabled people to manage the power in the device more naturally and effectively, and in a way that suits them. What can be easier than placing the phone down and watching it ‘magically’ charge by itself?”

Many of us already use wireless charging technology, although we might not be aware of it. If you use an electric toothbrush that charges when it’s placed back on its stand, it probably uses contactless inductive charging to receive the energy.

It’s such a simple technology that once you’ve started using it, you’ll find the most natural thing in the world.

When building wireless charging technology into devices, there are a number of things to consider.

For one, you must be mindful that the more you put inside a device the more of an impact that will have on the size, weight, and look of the phone.

Fortunately, the wireless charging copper coil in the Nokia Lumia 920 is about 0.6mm thick, but it’s got to be placed correctly so that it receives the energy from the charging pad in the most efficient way.

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“In the early stages it’s a case of laying everything out and looking at what you’ve got to play with. Then deciding what needs to go where.” explains Markku, and leading onto the construction materials.

“The new premium plastics that we’re using allow us to incorporate wireless charging with little complications. If we were to use metal casings, the wireless charging wouldn’t work as well.”

Of course, you can’t have a wireless charging phone without a wireless charger. That’s why Nokia has created a whole range of charging pads, each designed to meet the different needs of different people.

The Nokia Wireless Charging Plate adheres tightly to Nokia’s premium plastic, unibody design. It matches the Nokia Lumia 920 perfectly. This one might look more at home in the home study, where you might want to keep your phone topped up while you check emails throughout the day.

If you like something a little quirkier and want to treat your phone to luxury, lay it down on the Nokia Wireless Charging Pillow by Fatboy™. Picture this on the bedside table, waiting for the phone to rest in comfort – as you do.

For those of you that like to use their phone while its charging, the Nokia Wireless Charging Stand is what you’ll need. Its upright position means that you can charge your phone at an almost vertical angle, making it easy to see the screen. You can also pre-set this stand to open apps on your phone when your phone comes in contact with it. We feel this would be ideal for the office; taking prime place next to your computer screen where you can keep an eye on things while you work.

JBL PowerUp Wireless Charging speaker

Then there’s the JBL PowerUp Wireless Charging Speaker, a speaker that also chargers your phone at the same time. This is a really good example of using wireless charging when you’ll need it most.

If you’ve ever spent hours listening to music on your mobile phone, you’ll know that it can impact on your phone’s battery levels. It makes sense to be able to connect your phone to a speaker – wirelessly – and have that speaker charge up your phone simultaneously. You’ll never have to stop listening to charge up your phone, just enjoy your favourite tracks throughout the day and well into the night.

We wanted to know what’s next for wireless charging at Nokia, and Markku gave us a glimpse of what he feels is the next step:

“We plan to incorporate wireless charging into all of our devices, where possible. At the moment, we’re in listening mode. We’re listening to what people like about this technology, and taking on feedback on what people might want in the future. We’ll then decide how best to move on with wireless charging to create a seamless charging experience.”

While we believe that wireless charging is a great new way to stay topped-up with power, some naysayers have been quick to call this technology a bit of a gimmick, touting that: “It’s not fully wireless until I can have the power beamed to my phone, where ever I am in the house – like Wi-Fi.”

In theory, that’s a great idea, however, Markku confirms it’s just impossible on a phone:

“When it comes to transferring energy through the air, it’s quite a precise science. Even at the close distance between charging pad and phone, there are some energy losses. To try this on a bigger scale, across several meters, has so many safety concerns. It’s just too dangerous, I don’t even know how many megawatts you’d need to be able to do that. Too many, that’s for sure.”

Fatboy charging pillow

He’s right, of course. It’d be much like sending a lighting bolt across the room, just to charge up your phone. Or, even if you could turn the dial down to a slight fizzle, the energy/magnetic field created would cause lots of additional problems around the home.

At the moment, Markku foresees a not too distant future where wireless charging may be possible up to 10cm away, making the action of neatly placing the phone on the charging pad no more. Instead, it’s a real possibility that wireless chargers can be built into furniture, say a couch, a table, or a wall, and have the phone charge if you’re in close proximity to these items.

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