Award-winning wireless charging

Oct. 30, 2020
"Wireless power is gaining even more speed due to the pandemic."

NuCurrent's Mike Harmon

Among winners of the recent, fourth-annual Revolution Awards, hosted by mHUB Chicago and MxD, was NuCurrent, named creator of the Innovation of the Year, which recognizes a technology or process that can improve the manufacturing ecosystem. We wanted to learn more, so we chatted with Mike Harmon, NuCurrent director of marketing. Take a look… 

Smart Industry: Congrats on being recognized for Innovation of the Year. Describe your innovation and its applications. 

Mike: MP-A17 is a global standard for wireless phone charging; it's used in Qi chargers to charge mobile phones, earbud cases and other devices that want the safety and interoperability that comes from an industry standard. Prior to MP-A17 the standard separation between transmitter and receiver was 3-5mm, but our innovation pushed that to 12mm. This added distance opens up a wide variety of new applications from charging through thick cases and accessories and mounting chargers below surfaces, like countertops or in RVs and boats. 

Smart Industry: Let’s talk applications of wireless technology in the industrial space?

Mike: MP-A17 actually started in the industrial space in the world of industrial handheld computers. We needed to extend the charging volume for these handheld logistics computers, and the innovations and learnings from that use case told us that more was possible. There is growing interest in how to power sensors as well as how to deliver power across an airgap in such a way that wireless power transfer acts as a "contactless connector.” There are countless applications of this type of wireless power application. 

Smart Industry: How is your space being impacted by the pandemic?

Mike: Speaking of contactless (in a different way), wireless power is gaining even more speed due to the pandemic. There is greater interest in decluttering and having cleanable surfaces that are ready-made features of wireless power applications. Doing what we do in a pandemic isn't easy—we've had to work really hard to adapt. 

Smart Industry: Give me a few tips for OEMs looking to better integrate wireless power into their products. 

Mike: 1) Understand that there are many different methods of transferring wireless power. Which ones are right for your application? Leverage an expert if you need help. 2) Recognize that each method has tradeoffs. For example, inductive charging can be great because there's a global standard (Qi) that assures interoperability and safety. However, inductive resonant charging provides advantages in spatial freedom and having multiple receivers on a single transmitter. 3) Leverage simulation tools to get an understanding of the thermal impact caused by adding the feature. Wireless power development can look great on the testing bench, but once it's in the device, problems with heat are likely to emerge. 

Smart Industry: What most excites you about wireless charging in the coming months? 

Mike: We're at the very beginning of an industry. There's still so much room for innovation. Combining wireless power and data transfer via NFC charging is a major innovation for small wearable devices. Multi-mode solutions (Qi and inductive resonant) that provide the best of both solution types are a real possibility. Contactless connectors are a big green space. You'll find NuCurrent continuing our history of innovation and driving things forward every step of the way.