Wireless charging has been around for years in various guises, but it's always required some kind of specialised charging pad or accessory to conduct current to our devices. However we're now finally starting to see manufacturers take advantage of more natural and convenient ways of incorporating wireless charging technology into the objects we already have around us, and this is the latest example of the trend: Samsung has unveiled the world's first monitor with integrated wireless charging for mobile devices.
At first glance, the SE370 doesn't look all that different from most other computer displays. It's available in 23.6- and 27-inch configurations, with a handsome white and blue finish on the exterior. But look a little closer at the monitor's stand and you'll notice that Samsung has integrated a Qi charging pad at the centre of the display's base.
Lots of people already rest their smartphone in this position (or close to it) while they're working, so why not give it a little extra juice at the same time? We love it. It's a simple and effortless way of adding something new to technology and it doesn't require us to change our habits or hook up new cables to ostensibly cut down on old cables. When users place their smartphone on the stand's Qi platform, automatic charging is initiated and an LED light confirms that charging is taking place.
"Technology should support, not interfere with, active lifestyles," said Seok-gi Kim, Samsung's SVP of Visual Display Business, in a press release. "Our customers increasingly rely on mobile devices to obtain information and interact with others; so by doing away with the clutter on their desks, we are helping them to use their mobile devices in a smarter way."
It's worth pointing out that only Qi-compatible devices will work with Samsung's new display - and not devices that use the other kinds of wireless charging technology currently available on the market (such as Powermat and Rezence).
While those three platforms represent the bulk of what's currently available to buy in terms of wireless charging technology, there's a huge amount of ongoing research in this area that's looking to transform the ways we power our devices with even more ambitious innovations.
Last year, researchers in the US invented a method whereby mobile devices could be charged by magnetic fields at distances up to 30 centimetres away from the charger. Even more promisingly, electronics company Energous this year demonstrated its WattUp technology that can charge as many as 12 devices up to 4.5 metres away, by creating a '3D pocket of energy' over a local 5.8GHz RF spectrum.
And just one month ago, researchers in the US demonstrated that ordinary Wi-Fi routers can be tweaked to transmit power capable of running devices like cameras and electronic sensors. The 'power over Wi-Fi' (or PoWi-Fi) system developed by scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology broadcasts a constant stream of Wi-Fi background noise that can be havested and used to provide a constant electricity source for small devices not connected to mains power.