Charging cables are a low-grade frustration that each of us deals with on a daily basis. We rely on them for most of the devices that we need to get through our day. We’ve loaded our cars, bags, and homes with spare cables, but no matter how well we plan, we’re always held hostage by cords and adapters. So what’s the future of charging? Is there any chance that we’ll be free of our USB-based shackles?

Wireless charging isn’t new, especially if you’re an aficionado of electric toothbrushes. We’ve got wireless charging pads for phones, watches, and other devices, but our introduction to wireless charging actually started in the bathroom over 20 years ago when rudimentary forms of wireless chargers kept our electric toothbrushes working at their plaque-removing best. These first-gen wireless devices, much like the devices of today, feature wireless charging that operates on the principle of electromagnetic induction. Using this design, a charging platform has a transmitting coil that induces a current in the receiver coil that’s located in a compatible device like your phone or iWatch. Devices using this technology operate under the Qi standard, which gives us a fair amount of compatibility between wirelessly charging devices.

For all its benefits, wireless charging still suffers from a few issues that prevent it from giving us that cable-free lifestyle we’re looking for. First, in order to interact with the wireless charging platform, the compatible device must have a case made of glass or another material that won’t interrupt the electromagnetic forces at work. This is easy to design, but anybody with a tile floor can tell you that a glass phone is trouble waiting to happen. The second catch is that we still need cables. Even though we aren’t plugging in our phones or watches, the base still requires a connection to a power source, and the device still needs to be near the base, so how much of an improvement is a wireless charging station after all?

While we’re still somewhat cord-dependent, there are a few technologies on the horizon that show promise for people hoping to live that cord-free life. Engineers are toying with designs that allow devices to harness wi-fi signals and ambient radio waves for power. The most promising new technology, however, comes Pi Charging (recently rebranded as Spansive), a company that won the TechCrunch Disrupt in 2017. Their system works like any other wireless charging station, but where wireless chargers require direct contact to charge a device, Pi promises that their chargers can work on any device that’s within one foot of the charger.

If Pi is able to scale up their technology, it’s possible that we could have a charger that works within five or ten or even twenty feet of a charging station. This means that you could wirelessly charge any device in the same room as a charger, possibly even within your whole home. You’d still need a cord to connect the charger to a power source, but now you’ve only using one cable for all devices, instead of one cable for each device. And you’ll never accidently unplug your phone again while you’re sleeping.

Like most technological leaps forward, a move towards large-scale wireless charging means that we’ll be probably need to upgrade our hardware. The inevitable by-product of upgrades is finding a new home for old equipment. CDR Global is a major force in Information Technology Asset Disposition (ITAD), and when it’s time for your old hardware to make way for the new, we can help you protect your data and realize the greatest possible value for any piece of hardware. We’ll even deal with all those old phone chargers.