Standardized Power Chargers

This is a great idea, I would love to see a standard sized device charger (doesn’t have to be limited to mobile phones) adopted by hardware manufacturers much in the same way that USB was embraced. Not only would this be convenient for consumers, but the charger could be unbundled from the device, as in you buy one charger to support the full range of devices that you have which results in lower BOM costs for the manufacturer and less waste from a consumer standpoint.

The agreement by Nokia, Sony Ericsson and other industry majors will mean phones compatible with standard charging devices are available in Europe from next year, said the EU executive, which has pushed for such a deal.

[From Telecom firms back standard phone charger in Europe | Technology | Reuters]

This is a totally doable concept because all mobile devices rely on chargers that are within specific output voltages and amperages, which can be auto-sensed by the wall unit, meaning that standardization really takes the form of standard cabling to connect the device to the charger unit… and as Apple and Blackberry, among others, demonstrate, USB is an ideal cabling for moving not just data to the device but also power.

Not surprisingly, Apple has taken a lead in smart designs in this area and the latest generation iPhone wall power unit is about as small as possible and the utilization of the USB cable means that there is less “stuff” that the iPhone requires. Unfortunately, Apple’s departure from USB standards, relying on the proprietary iPhone connector on one end, means that the iPhone itself will also require a proprietary component (even if someone else makes it there is still a licensing component which is, as far as I know, a flat fee of $4 per unit), but ignoring that for the moment, the Apple scheme that relies on a small wall plug in and a USB cable to connect the device is ideal.

A standard device charger is a big step in the right direction but it’s still only a half measure to something that would truly revolutionize how power is delivered to mobile devices and that is wirelessly. Nikola Tesla demonstrated the wireless delivery of electricity over 115 years ago (Tesla coils were not invented solely for use as movie props), which leaves me wondering why this technology has not been commercialized for consumer devices.