The next furniture you buy could wirelessly charge your smartphone

Wireless charging really won’t take off with consumers until it gets easier to use in more places with more devices, I told the Wireless Power Consortium while visiting their CES booth on Wednesday. They agree although they’re quick to point out that they have an installed base of 40 million devices that use the Qi wireless charging standard. As far as the more places aspect? They’ve got plans for that too.

A new resonance extension to the Qi standard is in the works (PDF) and I got a demonstration of it at CES this week. Basically, the extension — which is backwards-compatible with current Qi devices — lets your device be farther from a wireless charging pad. Here’s an example pic of a phone atop two notepads on a charger: The phone is still recharging.

Qi resonance

This makes it easier to build wireless charging pads into furniture, for example. Or into a car, the armrest of an airline seat — they showed me a sample of that too — or any other surface you might place your phone on. It’s not a perfect solution: efficiency is only around 65 percent for now.

An additional annoyance I noted is how consumers have to place their devices just right on wireless charging pads using Qi. Again, there was no argument, but the technology is there to resolve this issue. I checked out this multidevice charging pad, which let me gently toss a trio of handsets onto it and they all started to charge immediately.

Qi charging pad three phones

For now, there are still some key limits in the way of widespread wireless charging. Based on my chat with them, the WPC knows what they are and is farther along in solving them than you might think. I’m hoping my next nightstand sees the fruits of their labor so I can just drop my devices down before bed and wake up feeling fully recharged.