KOREA, Mar 7 – A cup holder that wirelessly charges electronic devices in a 3D space has been developed by ETRI in South Korea. It is dubbed as ‘E-Cup’ and can charge multiple devices placed inside the 10 cm-wide holder at the same time, at the same rate as wired chargers, regardless of orientation or position of the devices.
Shaped just like a circular cup holder, 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,” says Dr. Ho-Jin Lee, the AVP of the Radio & Satellite Research Division of ETRI.
The team debuted the E-Cup at the Consumer Electronics Show 2017 (CES2017) held in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. 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 systemwise.
The team is working on raising that to 70% before the product can be commercialized. When this technology comes to market, people can easily and freely charge the cellular phone wirelessly.
ETRI has been working on wireless charging for several years. From 2015, ETRI developed a 3D wireless charging technology based on magnetic resonance for electric bikes, drones and smart devices. They succeeded to overcome the limitations of its 2D design and expand 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 U.S.-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.