A cup holder that wirelessly charges electronic devices in a 3D space has been developed by ETRI in South Korea. It is dubbed E-Cup and it can charge multiple devices placed inside the 10cm wide holder at the same time, at the same rate as wired chargers, regardless of orientation or position of the devices.
The wireless charger generates and maintains a constant and uniform magnetic field. The electric current wirelessly flows to the batteries inside the electronic devices based on the magnetic resonance.
"The newly developed technology has a wide range of potential applications including phones, although it is still in infancy. But at the same time it has a great potential to be improved," said Dr Ho-Jin Lee, the AVP of the Radio & Satellite Research Division of ETRI.
While it matches the speed of wired chargers, it is less efficient; its power conversion reaches to about 60% when calculated in terms of DC-to-DC conversion system-wise. The team is working on raising that to 70% before the product can be commercialised.
From 2015, ETRI developed a 3D wireless charging technology based on magnetic resonance for electric bikes, drones and smart devices. It overcame the limitations of the 2D design and expanded to 3D design to accelerate the freedom of charge without a loss of efficiency.
The research team considers this a generic technology that can be applied to all areas of industry. The market for wireless charging devices is expected to grow to nearly 1 billion USD in 2022, according to the US-based firm Markets and Markets. Besides smartphone chargers, ETRI is focused on developing highly efficient and safe wireless energy transfer technologies applicable to charge multiple devices in huge spaces, such as living rooms.