Wireless power, wireless data, no mice and no keyboards

We are not quite to a world of wireless and plugless devices. We have Wifi and cellphones but the devices must still be plugged in and a lot of devices still have to be plugged in for high speed data or for power. We still need a wide range of power adapters.

It may not ever (or not for a long time) make sense to go completely wireless and plugless. The tradeoffs may not be worthwhile to not have plugs or connections for many appliances.

However, wireless should be used to make things more convenient, seamless and reliable. Current voice recognition and gesture control of devices in cars and other applications needs to be made more convenient and seamless. Software and design need to be improved.

Below we look at the technology and devices which will take us further down the road to more convenient and widespread world of wireless and plugless devices.

Wireless Power

The new Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone is using the Wireless Power Consortium-backed Qi standard for wireless charging.

Following the steps of Nokia, LG Electronics and HTC, Samsung Electronics and Apple are expected to add wireless charging capability to their flagship models in 2013 Apple is likely to adopt the wireless charging technology developed internally, but it remains unknown if the next-generation iPhone will come with built-in wireless charging capability or with other attached accessories, said the sources.

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland is working with the industry’s leading technological companies and standardisation bodies to expand the scope of application of wireless charging technology to other, smaller portable devices, such as mobile phone accessories, wrist devices, wireless mice and sensors. This can be done by combining wireless power transmission with NFC connectivity technology, which enables cost-effective and compact design.

In the near future, NFC devices will be able to receive electrical power wirelessly, as well as acting as charging platforms capable of transmitting wireless electrical power.

The challenges include, among others, current NFC antenna circuits which have not been optimised for efficient, wireless energy transfer. In addition to technological development, introducing NFC-based charging to commercial products requires amendments to the NFC standards so that they also support the design of open interfaces, both in the device to be charged and the wireless charger devices. This work is under way at the NFC Forum.

As has often been the case in the past with gadgets, there is likely to be a battle over the standards for wireless power.

TVs without connections or plugs

TV without plugs were demonstrated in 2009 and 2010. Tablets for consuming TV can now be unwired for many hours. Getting to plugless TVs will be a combination of reducing power demands (via OLED and other technology) and improvements in wireless power transmission. For some sizes of TVs this may not be practical.

South Korea and others are making super-high speed wireless communication that would enable televisions to not need HDMI and other cable like data connections. Eliminating the spider web of connections behind televisions seems like a worthwhile convenience.

There will be completely wireless gadgets like Google Glass and low power projectors for displaying images which appear to be large screen television images.

Leap Motion and other devices for eliminating Computer Mice and reducing the need for keyboards

Leap Motion is cheaper ($70) and more precise (down to 0.01 mm), and much smaller (think “pack of gum” proportions) version of the Xbox Kinect device. The desktop device can quickly detect hand motion so that a user needs merely wiggle their fingers in front of their computer to intuitively control what happens on the screen. This will eliminate the need for computer mice and reduce the need for physical keyboards.

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