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Want wireless power? Not so fast

Contactless powering of mobile devices sounds good in theory, but it will take at least five years before the technology is commercialized, IDC says.
Written by Lynn Tan @ Redhat, Contributor

Mobile device users will have to wait at least another five years before they can hope to cut the electricity power cord and have their laptops or cell phones charged wirelessly, says an IDC analyst.

Early this month, a team of researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the United States unveiled a new way of sending power to devices via magnetic induction remotely. The method uses a charging device dubbed "WiTricity", which eliminates the need for wires.

Bryan Ma, IDC's director for Asia-Pacific personal systems research, told ZDNet Asia in a phone interview that wireless power "makes a lot of sense", in theory.

Ma said that even though the network and USB connections are now wireless, "there is still one major wire that technically still chains us to the desk, and that one wire is electricity".

"So, in theory, in order for something to be truly wireless, not withstanding the battery...power is the last remaining thing," he said, noting that batteries would still have to be recharged.

Although Ma believes this concept of powering devices wirelessly makes "a lot of sense" for the tech industry, and noted that Taiwanese OEMs (original equipment manufacturers), or even Korean mobile phone vendors, could be interested to explore this area, it is still early days.

"This would be nice to have in theory, but it's not to say that in practice it's actually going to happen," he said. "A flying automobile is also a nice thing in theory, but [we are] not going to see it anytime soon."

The IDC analyst said commercialization of such technology innovation will not materialize for at least another five years.

Ma explained: "There's a huge number of issues, mainly from a technical perspective, that needs to be resolved before anything like this can be commercialized." Challenges include price, performance and safety, he said.

When asked if Lenovo would be keen to explore this technology, Geraldine Kan, program director of Asia-Pacific communications for the Chinese PC maker, told ZDNet Asia: "Lenovo is a company that prides itself on innovation, and as such we welcome any innovation that helps our customers, solves one of their problems, and does so at a reasonable price."

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