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Wireless tech lends power to battery-run electronics

Posted: 27 May 2014  Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:wireless  battery  electronics  element14  Wireless Power Challenge 

element14 Community's design competition, the Wireless Power Challenge, looks at wireless technology beyond phone applications, and as more than just a solution to minimise the use of cords. The competition aims to utilise the technology to bring in improvements in home entertainment and electronics where battery concern comes to the fore.

Think of the amount of devices you have in your house that are battery-operated remote controls for TVs, Hi-Fi systems and games consoles, children's toys and in some cases even electronic toothbrushes, razors and hairdryers.

That is a lot of technology that can just run out of power at any time, leaving you hoping with the famous 'turn the batteries around' trick works or that you might actually have a few spares hiding in the back of a drawer somewhere. Thankfully, we've seen some great ideas from finalists in the element14 Community Wireless Power Challenge, providing a far more practical solution to battery-operated equipment.

Future-proof power

Hendrik Lipka and Martin Puig, both of Germany, have both addressed wireless power in the home in their entries; suggesting a charger station and wireless power solutions for battery-operated children's toys and television remotes respectively.

In his project, Hendrik Lipka aims to continue the work he has done independently adding wireless power to his son's night light by designing a wireless power solution for his snowplough toy, which is powered by eight AA battery cells, resulting in up to 12V.

The challenge is to find a way of wirelessly producing the equivalent power and making the batteries rechargeable. You can see his progress on his personal blog.

Meanwhile, Martin Puig is tackling the remote control market, focusing initially on his TV and looking to solve the problem of getting stuck on one channel when the batteries run out.

If successful, by developing a wireless power solution and charging station for remote controls, this could help pave the way for similar alternatives to other types of remote control, music to ears of Hi-Fi enthusiasts and gamers.

Looking beyond Europe, we also saw some great ideas such as a wireless charged robotic vacuum cleaner, which returns to its charging station automatically from Xu Weijie in China; and a wireless power base to charge smoke alarms, doorbells and telephone alerting devices for people with disabilities from Malcolm Whinfield, Australia.

With so much innovation in devices throughout the home, it seems strange that were still relying on turning around batteries to get things to work. What we're seeing in our latest challenge is that wireless power is now a viable solution and one that companies will soon start to embrace.

- Dianne Kibbey
  EE Times Europe
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