The two critical attributes to look for in a wireless power solution

17 July 2018

You’ve decided to explore wireless power solutions. You want to create a new product category. You want to eliminate power cords and battery changes. You want to leapfrog your competition.

These are all great reasons, but what should you look for when evaluating wireless power solutions? We divide these into three categories: the prerequisites, the critical attributes and then everything else.

The prerequisites

Without these, the technology should be off your radar:

  • Does it work? Stating the obvious, you’d want to see a demonstration that resembles your use case. If this demonstration is in a trade show, products exhibited on the floor are preferred to those that you can see under very controlled conditions behind closed doors.
  • Is it safe? Governments and international organizations defined safety standards for various wavelengths (e.g. ultrasound, radio frequency, light). These specify the allowable exposure limits and usage parameters. Make sure that the technology you are looking at is safe at the conditions you want to operate it. Look for safety certification in these operating conditions.

The critical attributes

  • Power. There is a reason the word ‘power’ is part of ‘wireless power’. After all, that’s what it is all about. Whether you are looking to power a sensor, a computer peripheral, a mobile phone or a notebook computer, make sure the technology you are examining can actually deliver that kind of power, and that the desired power is within the safety limits.
  • Distance. Consider how far you need to deliver power. Is it OK to put the charged device on a charging pad? Is in desk-sized distances from the power transmitter? Room-sized distances? Larger? The power delivery ability of some technologies goes down quickly with distance, so you want to make sure what you can get the right power, at the right distance, all while staying within safety limits.

Everything else

If the selected technology can safely deliver the desired power over the desired distance, you can now turn to other items to consider:

  • Efficiency. How much power does the transmitter use to deliver a certain power level to the transmitter?
  • Ability to power multiple devices.
  • The physical size of the receiver. Does it fit within the device you want to power?
  • The physical size of the transmitter. Does it work with your use case?
  • Power delivery in motion. Does the technology under examination support the kinematic profile of the device being charged?
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