Recharging mobile devices without plugging them in is becoming more attractive as additional devices support wireless charging technology. On Tuesday, the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC) announced that 110 consumer electronic products are supported with a global installed base of 8.5 million. Ranging from phones to tablets to game controllers, the future of wireless charging looks bright as consumers use more devices but don’t want to deal with the hassle of plugging them all in on a regular basis.
According to the WPC, the 8.5 million Qi devices are comprised of 6 million in the U.S., 2 million in Japan, and another half million in Korea. Helping the WPC’s efforts is the Qi standard. Manufactures that integrate wireless charging via Qi specifications allow their devices to be recharged by placing the unit on any charging mat or pad that also uses the Qi standard. This alleviates the hassles of buying a different charging mat for each device, making the solution more attractive to consumers and hardware makers alike. Clearly, this is working because the number of Qi devices has doubled in the last 7 months alone.
The interest in wireless charging is sure to grow as it becomes a new feature on phones and tablets. For example, Nokia(s nok) is expected to announce two new phones tomorrow that will support the functionality. Speculation based on Apple(s aapl) patents have some thinking the next iPhone will also include wireless charging. And last week, Intel(s intc) announced plans that support wireless charging of phones from a computer. Plus there are third-party options such as this one (shown left) for the Samsung Galaxy S III.
But for real growth in this market, here’s what I’m envisioning: Furniture with the charging mats built in. Don’t laugh: Jay-Z’s 40/40 club is halfway there with wireless charging mats installed at the tables, according to Bloomberg!
I’m not suggesting that every chair or table include a Qi-compatible charging mat. But I would like to see integrated wireless chargers where we keep mobile devices the most. Think desks, nightstands or coffee tables, for example. If you’re going to put your phone down on these pieces of furniture anyway, why not have your handset recharge at the same time? Hmm … I think I just found a new use and weekend project for our old coffee table.