IDT’s Anxiety Cure

IDT tells me that wireless charging is a NBT (next big thing) driven by a ubiquitous disease called ‘battery anxiety’.

Battery anxiety sounds a bit like WiFi anxiety – a fear of deprivation.

Whenever we’re loafing around in pubs, planes, restaurants, cafes, hotel rooms, waiting rooms, offices, coffee shops, betting shops or in cars, buses or trains we are liable to go down with battery anxiety.

Your friendly publican, plane-maker, restaurateur et al will come to the rescue with a charging plate, hopes IDT.

IDT has sold wireless charging technology to IKEA for them to add it to a table light.

No more fiddling around with plugs and sockets – just toss whatever it is you want charged on a plate.

As owner of a Philips Sonicare toothbrush which you drop into a tooth mug to charge, I am half convinced about the convenience of wireless charging.

IDT, having snaffled Samsung and LG is now going after smaller, but more plentiful fish with a Qi-compliant transmitter kit with a BOM of $40 and a receiver kit with a BOM of $30.

“Any fool can make wireless power work, but making it work at a reasonable cost with reasonable performance takes considerable engineering skills,” IDT’s Graham Robertson tells me.

As someone who carries a spare phone battery around, I have never suffered from phone battery anxiety but, as someone who daily charges a wet toothbrush in a wet bathroom, I can see the advantages of wireless charging in wet places like boats, kitchens, gardens, parks and Scotland.

Robertson reckons consumers will also appreciate a charging ‘tray’ on which you can drop anything that needs charging without having to plug it in.

$30 is not much to add to a phone but it’s quite a lot to add to a toothbrush or a toy.

IDT’s transmitter and receiver reference kits include reference boards and design support materials including instructional videos, user manuals, foreign object detection (FOD) tuning guides, layout guides, layout instantiation modules, schematics, bill-of-materials (BOM), Gerber files, and more.



  1. Not sure I would either, Jamo

  2. A little Dicky Bird points out that Amazon is flogging Qi wireless power modules for less than $10 and, even though these might have lower performance, such a feature in a more integrated fashion could be even cheaper and prices will drop further when consumers massively adopt the technology. A recent NXP press release suggests that a highly integrated solution is already available, and further suggests that the feature comes at such low cost that smartphone suppliers would even put it in-the-box with their smartphone, delivering a wireless charging pad, like they deliver a USB charger today with their phones.

  3. I remember in the 90s (in a US semi biz) we had a vision to replace bulky external laptop chargers with power electronics that would fit inside the laptop. That particular goal fell by the wayside, especially when (I think) Power Integrations introduced the first offline switcher ICs. Roll on to Apple USB chargers the size of a wall plug !, a laptop charger which is an enlarged wall plug. Do we really want to put additional wireless (inductive) electronics inside all our kit ? It’s great on my Nokia which comes for free, but not sure I would use it outside.

  4. Actually the Braun toothbrush changes via an inductive coupling loop. No wireless involved (unless you count 50Hz to be wireless). Its range is only a cm or two though.

    The problem is the chargers are permanentley on, using AC power even if they are not charging anything. Not a lot of power but still wastefull. Now if they could detect when a device was near and only power up, then that would make a difference, at least to the provider.

  5. You’re absolutely right, Mike, it’s a curiously recurrent obsession without much justification

  6. I think you’ve nailed it Fred, in which case it looks a long way off

  7. Sounds about right, Quicksilver

  8. In Scotland water damage is more of an issue, then signal then theft!

  9. > There is no need to charge a phone in a Scottish park. There will be no signal anyway..
    Haha Stooriefit – that’s the least of your worries – if you’re not careful there will be no phone, never mind a signal..

  10. There is no need to charge a phone in a Scottish park. There will be no signal anyway.

  11. > Your friendly publican, plane-maker, restaurateur et al will come to the rescue with a charging plate
    Many flights today offer a USB charging socket or even a full mains supply. Pubs and restaurants, why bother – a mains socket within reach where you can plug in what you like including your laptop / phone charger or whatever solves the problem much better than resorting to some esoteric technology. And, like Keith my Braun toothbrush lasts for several days without a charge so I’m unlikely to want to charge it up on a flight, in a pub or a restaurant and you’d probably get strange looks if you tried to attempt such a thing. Wireless charging is a convenience, but only if it can charge as fast as a wired device (I doubt that ) and costs buttons..

  12. I recall wireless charging was going to be the NBT back in 1994 when a Motorola phone lasted 10 hours on standby.

    Then Nokia introduced various phones with 3 to 7 day battery lives 🙂

  13. Oh yes my dear dear friends Qualcomm SEPAM, they do get some interesting bees in their bonnet. MediaFLO that TV service was one, Augmented Reality another. They tell me there are over 50 micro-breweries in San Diego.

  14. Ah Yes Keith my Philips gets battery life of about that too. It makes re-charging look less of an issue and makes $30 for wireless charging look excessive. Mind you there are 30+ components in IDT’s BOM. If a lot of these could be integrated the cost would be brought down considerably. Maybe ubiquitous wireless charging is some way off.

  15. SecretEuroPatentAgentMan

    Well, you seem to agree well with your friends over at Qualcomm: they sure have filed a lot of international patent applications for wireless charging:

    Name No

    Patent statistics suggests this field picked up steam in 2008 (10 applications filed), growing exponentially to 2014 with 100 applications filed.

  16. My Braun electric toothbrush bought from Boots at about £20 holds enough charge for at least a week without recharging. in fact this summer it went 10 days quite happily. And in case it ever runs out, I have a backup manual one!

  17. Yes I was thinking of more expensive phones, Quicksilver, but, now you mention it, these kits are meant for 2nd tier phone-makers whose products may well be under $200. You’re right, it is expensive for $200 phones but it’s a lot more expensive for toothbrushes and toys.

  18. US$30 seems quite a lot to add to a phone when the BOM is usually well below US$200.


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