Apple's missing AirPower could harm the wireless charging business

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According to a new report, Apple's silence regarding the possible shipment of its long-awaited wireless multi-device charger could give smartphones and other mobile devices a second idea about the use of technology in their own devices.

Annual shipments of receivers and wireless transmitters are expected to increase from 450 million units in 2017 to more than 2.2 billion units in 2023. By 2027, shipments of wireless transmitters and transmitters are expected to increase from 450 million units in 2017 to over 2.2 billion units in 2023. Wireless charge is expected to reach 7.5 billion units, according to a new report from IHS Note.

From 2018 to 2023, more than 6 billion wireless charge receiver units and 2.7 billion transmitter units should be shipped. Smartphones, portable devices and home appliances are expected to be the top three types of wireless charging devices over the next four years. Smartphones are expected to account for about 4.6 billion of the 6 billion wireless charging receivers delivered in the next five years.

IHS Markit Wireless RechargeIHS Markit

Even with the increasing adoption of wireless charging, there has recently been a chilling effect on the surge caused by Apple's failure to ship its AirPower wireless charger. Apple announced AirPower in the fall of 2017 and announced that it would be available before the end of last year.

Throughout 2018, Apple has remained silent about the fate of its wireless charger; he did not even talk about it during his annual main event in September. Industry experts have assumed that the company was struggling with technical problems, such as regulating different charging requirements on a single pad using the Qi wireless charge specification. Apple has announced that AirPower can charge an iPhone 8 or iPhone X, an Apple Watch Series 3 and AirPod via their charging case.

IHS Markit Wireless Recharge IHS Markit

Another possibility is that Apple plans to use the intellectual property of PowerByProxi, the small wireless charge technology company purchased in 2017. PowerByProxi's technology uses magnetic resonance to send a charge over short distances (a little over an inch).

In 2014, PowerByProxi introduced a 7.5-watt highly resonant bowl-shaped charging system for slim-shaped devices such as smartphones and phablets; this technology, said the company at the time, could be extended to 15 watts for tablets.

Recent speculation from the industry claimed that the AirPower of Apple was already on the production line, in preparation for the shipment. A request for comment on the status of AirPower to Apple has not been returned.

PowerByProxi Wireless Charging PowerbyProxi

How does the wireless charge work?

Since Apple is a pioneer in technology, many other technology companies are following its adoption strategy as it plays an important role in the ecosystem, especially with its iPhone, according to DHS Senior IHS Markit analyst Dinesh Kithany.

As smartphones are one of the largest wireless-enabled product segments, what Apple does or does not play an important role, he said.

To date, most smartphone manufacturers offer only wireless charging on their flagship devices, choosing to wait to deploy it on lower-model phone lines, Kithany said.

Apple has chosen the standard Qi induction wireless charging for its range of iPhone, which has prompted the industry to also adopt the same standard. However, in the future, unlinked charging technologies such as radio frequency (RF), infrared (IR) and ultrasound, better suited to portable devices and IoT objects, are likely to be adopted. .

"Before Apple decided to take [Qi] In 2017, many companies working on the resonance and the RF declared that we had lost the great war. So things slowed down until they knew what to do and what other product segments they could think of. "

Wireless magnetic induction charging requires that a mobile device be in contact with a charging pad or other device. Magnetic resonance allows a more flexible coupling between a charger and a mobile device being charged. An uncoupled load, such as a radio frequency or infrared wireless load, sends power to the air and can charge a device several meters away.

In the last few months, companies developing an unmated wireless charging have started making noise again.

For example, AirFuel Alliance, which has several untethered charge technology companies, made several announcements at CES last month, including one around the RF wireless charging developer Energous Corp. Energous, which sells its license for intellectual property, has demonstrated "production" at CES of several manufacturers.

wireless power Energetic

Michael Leabman, founder and technical director of Energous, explains how one of the company's wireless charging routers can send energy to medium and long distance distance.

Another decoupled charge developer, Wi-Charge, uses infrared technology to send power over distances of several meters. He said product shipments could start in the first half of this year.

Uncoupled wireless charging could be used to power anything from smart watches to hearing aids to IoT devices to roaming warehouse robots. For example, smart buildings that use hundreds of sensors to regulate HVAC systems or control door locks can power these devices with batteries charged via un-coupled technology. Uncoupled technology could be used to keep medical devices, smartphones or portable smartwatches when users move into workspaces or in public areas such as airports.

"I see many companies now … turning to other chargers for which induction technology is not a good solution," Kithany said.

According to Markit 's IHS report, while consumer and industry interest in the wireless energy market has moved away from mobile phones, it' s turned to wearables, medical devices, electric vehicles and other consumer and industrial applications.

WiTricity, a Massachusetts-based company, focuses primarily on charging electric vehicles with magnetic resonance technology.

The company, which is also part of the AirFuel Alliance, expects a number of electric car manufacturers to announce the wireless charging of their vehicles, said WiTricity's CEO. Alex Gruzen.

Wireless charging Daimler WiTricity Daimler

Daimler, along with other automakers, have announced that they will market hybrids for electric vehicles that can use a wireless charger.

According to Kithany, the time required for any new technology to move from the design stage to the launch is considered long enough in the automotive industry. Unlike mainstream technology, which takes two to three from development to production, automotive technology typically takes about five years.

"Given that, while most automakers are working on their wireless charging solution for electric vehicles, we could not expect to see them on the roads before the end of the year 2021," he said. said Kithany.

Meanwhile, wireless inductive charging products will continue to account for the largest share of receivers and transmitters for at least several years. The amount of energy transmitted by inductive technology to mobile devices, however, should skyrocket.

Currently, the share of appliances with rated power ratings below 5 watts (W) in the consumer sector is expected to decrease significantly over the next five years, with appliances switching to 15 to 20 W nominal power ratings. support fast charge.