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Inductive Coupling- “Good-bye annoying charging cables”

  -   19. March 2017
Source: Free-Photos/

This is no longer a dream of the future. Inductive coupling makes it possible. It exists since the transformer was developed in the 1800s. In 1900 Nikola Tesla got his first patent for inductive charging and laid the technical foundation. Today it is steadily advanced.
What is inductive charging? It is the transfer of electrical energy from one part to the circuit to another. The power is transferred cordless between coils of wire by a magnetic field. When applying this method electronic devices need no charging cable to get recharged.

Standard Battles

Critics are stating that various companies are fighting about wireless charging standards. There are three dominant standards on the market. The Closed Couples Qi Standard was developed by the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC) in 2008 with the goal to establish a common standard.Currently it is most used compared to the other two, as more than 200 companies decided officially to stick to Qi and it is already implemented in more than 1000 different electronic devices.

Nevertheless, the other standards are using different methods of induction, which are unfortunately not compatible with each other. Therefore, companies simply do not include the technology for inductive charging into their products. This results in a slower and harder development for inductive charging as it actually could be. There is a high need to standardize the technology – for consumers and businesses.

What are possible application areas?

Scientists are constantly working on implementing the possibility of inductive coupling in more electronic devices: Electric toothbrushes, razors, trams, trains and RFID tags are some examples where inductive coupling can be useful.

However, especially smartphones and electronic cars are currently application areas where the innovation can be an advantage. For Smartphones it might be rather an incremental and for electronic cars a radical innovation looking at the resulting opportunities.


The mobile device is simply placed on a charging block and via inductive coupling the battery gets recharged. Wireless charging of mobile devices became an emerging trend in the last years.Even companies like McDonald´s or Starbucks are offering wireless charging points for smartphones in their locations. Also Ikea is integrating such power sources in their furniture.

Electronic Cars:

The car can just be parked over a transmitter pad having implemented the inductive coupling method. Qualcomm, a semiconductor and telecommunications equipment company, is the market leader for the “Charging Pad”. They are also using the Qi technology, but developed it further for electric cars, as cars need more power than Smartphones. Their charger for cars is called “Qualcomm Halo”, it is 65 times 65cm, weighs 15 to 20kg, is very stable and needs to be connected with the power grid. It can be placed in the garage so that the car can be recharged when parking above the pad. Big German automotive companies, like Mercedes, BMW, Audi etc. are planning to implement the technology in their electric cars in 2017 and 2018.

Need for further development

As inductive coupling is a near field technique, it can only be used for short-range power transfer. Qualcomm Halo makes it possible to charge electronic cars even with a higher distance between power source and car by generating a higher frequency, but there is still optimization potential. Optimization would also be helpful for the smartphone because the mobility is extremely limited as the device has to be placed on the pad. Achieving better frequencies will result in shorter charging periods and the possibility to improve smartphone mobility during charging.

Furthermore inductive coupling finally needs to find a common standard in order to increase the innovation development. For that reason more companies, like HTC, LG, Apple,Samsung, Mercedes, BMW, etc. are sticking to Qi as they all want to boost inductive charging.


Generally a higher level of convenience for smartphone and electronic car consumers is achieved, which makes the products more attractive. Especially for the electronic cars this is an essential progress as the industry was not that successful as it was hoped to be. According to Björn Elias, Project manager at Audi, inductive charging has big potential to boost the electric mobility. This would be important for this industry, the environment and also because of the future development that one day cars operated with the limited resources gas or diesel won´t exist anymore and people have to drive electronic cars. For that reason the industry is already working on charging while driving. The charging technology should be implemented into the streets, so there would be no concerns anymore about the charging range and the waiting time during charging. It is extremely important to develop the competence enhancing innovation of inductive charging and the infrastructure for electronic cars further as sooner or later the electronic cars will be indispensable.

Who wrote it?

Marie Schubert

Marie Schubert studies at the European Management School in Mainz.


Patricia Hofmann
22-03-2017 11:55

Finally no more cable salad when charging my phone. I just heard about wireless charging a couple of times, that there are devices which use those wireless power banks to charge for example phones with. It is an interesting technology indeed, which has a lot of development potential in the future. Especially when it comes to electric cars like you mentioned in your article it can be a very helpful technology for the further development of the industry and that it hopefully leads to a slightly price drop for the electronic cars and a higher sales quantity.

Thorben Theis
21-03-2017 20:14

Very interesting article. I have never heard of that technology before. I thing this innovation can change the life of everyone. With further development the smartphone may start charging as soon as you enter your doorstep. That would be great. Also for the electronic auto industry this is a great opportunity. In a dream world every device would charge everywhere automatically. But thats for the future.

Franziska Blum
21-03-2017 15:23

You have chosen a very interesting technology. I also heard about the charging opportunity for smartphones, but never saw one. I think it is not such big problem at the moment that you cannot carry your phone around while charging, because with a cable you cannot do this, too. On the other hand, it will be a great benefit if it will be possible one day to charge and carry around at thensame time (maybe with this inductive charging, maybe with something completely new). For cars it really can be important, but them again we also need tot honk further, because where does the electricity come from.. but this is a question that in general has high importance.

Patrick Hanke
20-03-2017 20:53

I can only agree with your statement that this technology can enable a higher level of convenience for charging electric cars. This will hopefully boost the electric car industry and make it more attractive for potential buyers to purchase these environmentally-friendly cars. I first saw the technology in practice in an advertisement for the new BMW 7 series. The BMW 7 already has Qi technology incorporated as a standard feature to charge your smartphone during the car journey. I believe this technology is adapted by other car manufacturers soon and will be common to have in any car.

Samantha Beidinger
20-03-2017 17:16

I barely heard about wireless charging before. You gave an interesting insight into this topic. Just thinking about charging my phone by just placing it on a charging block and stopping the need of taking a powerbank with me is stunning. Concerning the transmitter pad for electronic cars I have to agree with Beate that we still have to get better with electronic cars. But as it is a growing market I am full of confidence that the transmitter pads for electronic cars will soon be a bigger issue for all of us. In my opinion this innovation has a high potential because it can make life easier, more convenient and thereby, less stressful.

Katharina Blanckart
20-03-2017 14:43

Nice article, you gave good introduction into the topic and presented it in a comprehensive way, especially as this topic contains a lot of technological information. I just heard about the wireless charging of phones recently and was completely surprised when I found out. Apparently it seems to work well but the number of people using this product is still very limited, probably also based on the relative high price. Regarding electric cars this technology could make the difference in my opinion. One of the main critics when it comes to electric cars is the power range and the inconvenient charging method. How you illustrated, this could be used to solve this issue and further foster electric cars. Besides all economic and innovative reasons, this would be the long awaited solution for all IPhone users who have spent a fortune on buying new charging wires.

Beate Gaitzsch
20-03-2017 10:46

It was really interesting to read about this technology, as I didn't hear much about it before. I saw some smartphone producers offering such stations, but I wasn't aware of the development. I think it has a lot of potential with the various areas of usage that you pointed out. Unfortunately, I suppose, we have to get better with electric cars first, including accepting them as a means of transport of the future and really supporting people in buying them. Then, the technology will surely become more important and used in the future. The smartphone market will adapt faster in my opinion. Maybe there will be a city or a country implementing the charging 'on the way' and will consequently act as a role model, which also convinces others.



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