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Will plugs soon follow the path of the dinosaur? Probably not, but wireless charging makes plugging into outlets increasingly unnecessary. Many phones, Bluetooth speakers, tablets and other gadgets can now be charged wirelessly. Yet while wireless charging has become one of the latest tech crazes, it’s been around for over a century.

You may have heard of the Tesla coil. Invented by the brilliant Nikola Tesla, the coil allowed the transfer of electricity without the need for wires. However, the coil could only transfer energy over short distances, and the powerful open charges could kill or severely maim people.

Nowadays, wireless charging is not so deadly. Currently, “Qi” is the most popular wireless charging standard, using inductive and resonant charging. With inductive wireless charging, a transmitting coil will send a signal, which will then be received by another coil, generating an electromagnetic field. This causes electrons to move in the receiver coil, creating electricity.

For the inductive load to work, the sender coils must be aligned and touching. A newer method, called resonant charging, was invented at MIT in 2006. Resonant charging uses two coils operating at the same resonant frequencies, making it easier to transfer energy over short distances, meaning devices don’t need to touch each other.

Inductive charging is more efficient than resonant charging. So you can charge your devices faster while consuming less electricity. Meanwhile, the resonant load provides convenience.

However, even inductive charging is not particularly efficient compared to the traditional plug.

Yet no matter how you cut it, wireless charging is far more efficient and convenient today than the infamous Tesla coil. And with scientists continuing to tinker with charging solutions, the future is indeed bright and wireless.

Virginia F. Goins