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Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Internet of Things Demands New Battery Technology

As the Internet of Things (IoT) evolves, and more wireless device applications require smartphone tethering in order to function, there's a key component that has the potential to severely limit progress -- the rechargeable battery.

Batteries and charging capacity are two of the biggest limitations of most mobile devices. While the computing, display, audio and connectivity capabilities of these devices have accelerated at a rapid pace, power capacity of lithium-ion batteries has barely increased by around 6 percent each year.

That said, battery-charging technology is about to get a boost. Juniper Research has found that wireless charging is poised to change the way consumers interact with their cars, with an estimated 50 million vehicles offering built-in wireless device charging by 2020, compared with only 4 million this year.

The latest Juniper market study found that the technology will enable a range of new in-vehicle services, such as on-board audio streaming and context-specific app notification filtering -- all made possible through the data exchange and constant power supply.

This advancement will also enable automakers to provide new software-based services through streaming notifications from a smartphone to the vehicle dashboard, rather than needing to constantly update on-board firmware.


"For wireless charging to truly succeed, mobile carriers and phone retailers need to provide consumers with an option for wireless chargers supplied with new devices," said James Moar, analyst at Juniper Research.

With no established standard for wireless charging, manufacturers have been hesitant to adopt the technology for fear of committing to a system that could soon be obsolete. As a result, several manufacturers have begun to provide solutions that cater for two specifications -- Qi and A4WP/PMA.

These de-facto wireless charging solutions are helping to overcome compatibility problems, but as they require more complex components than those geared to a single specification it will keep prices relatively high.

Besides, while several smartphone brands have already incorporated wireless charging capabilities into their handsets, the people who already own these new devices are often unaware of the feature.

This will change as more smartphone brands begin to promote the benefits, with the Samsung Galaxy S6 being the current trailblazer. However, in the short term, most smartphones will continue to be shipped with a wired charger.

Other key findings from the study include:
  • Over a third of all smartphones shipping in 2020 will have wireless charging capability built in, with more older devices enabled by accessories.
  • As well as being present in smartphones, PC makers will harness the technology, with nearly 20 percent of in-use portable computers being capable of charging wirelessly by 2020.