It’s likely that if you use a cellphone or other mobile device, you’ve probably charged it in your car. And you may have seen wireless chargers that charge the devices by putting them on a special surface. Now, Audi is experimenting with a system that charges your phone wireless through your car.
Once you’ve put your phone into a special form-fitting case, you simply drop into the console.
“It’s a magnetic resonance charger,” says Jonathan Lee, senior engineer at Audi’s electronics research lab in Palo Alto, California. “The technology for the charging is in the case. There’s a coil with its own controller technology in the case, and there’s a base station in the car mounted in the centre console. It was developed by Qualcomm, a semiconductor manufacturing company in the U.S., and we have an engineer at our lab who’s been working with them for the last year. Right now the phone would always have to wear the little cover, but they’re working with manufacturers to have (the coil) built into the cellphone.”
Magnetic resonance doesn’t require that the coil and base station be aligned. Rather than docking the phone into a special position, you can simply drop it into the console, so it will charge even if it’s upside down. The charging “signal” can travel about four to six centimetres. Audi’s demonstration vehicle had its base station mounted in the console storage box, but Lee says that depending on where it’s situated in the vehicle, it could be possible to charge the phone by dropping it into the cupholder or leaving it on the centre console.
“This system also compensates for having other metals nearby,” Lee says. “You can drop your keys or coins in, and you don’t have to remove everything to make a clean surface. You can just drop the phone in and go. It’s also compatible with Bluetooth, so you can take a call while it’s charging.”
Lee says that the system will be available to consumers at some time in the future.