Wireless power market surges as usage leaps forward
The market for wireless power and charging grew around 40% in 2016, yet the first three months of 2017 have already shown signs of being even more promising. With Samsung maintaining the technology on their flagship handset, rumours of Apple joining the party, and the proposed first wireless charging enabled laptop from Witricity and Dell, global receiver shipments are projected to reach 325 million units by year end.
According to the new IHS Markit 2017 Wireless Power Tracker, mobile phones remain the primary driver for development of wireless power technology and low-frequency inductive solutions in this market will account for the most receiver units shipped from 2016 to 2020.
Mobile phones have also continued to be the entry point for consumer experience and demand for wireless power and the IHS Markit Q1 consumer survey has shown awareness of the technology among consumers remains high. More significantly, there has also been a huge jump in usage. Over one-third (35%) of consumers in the US said they have now used wireless charging, up from 25% (both globally and in the United States specifically) in the 2016 survey.
What can we learn from the larger pool of wireless charging experience? Aside from a clear desire to see further increase in available enabled devices, the consumer survey highlighted the following:
* 98% of wireless power users are satisfied with their current solutions, with 61% being “very satisfied”
* Consumers that have actually used wireless charging chose pad/mat based charging as their strongest preference, but interest in wireless chargers that offer even greater freedom of placement in the future was also high.
These findings show inductive/pad based charging solutions are already starting to fill consumer needs, therefore boosting their desire to adopt the technology in other applications that offer it in the future.
Transmitter market keeps pace
Transmitters designed for public infrastructure, such as those in the restaurant and hospitality sector, are also expected to see a boost in shipments in the next 10 years. As new enabled products in the mobile phone and laptop market emerge, demand for additional charging opportunities when consumers are out of the home/car environment will rise. The consumer survey already shows that ‘power grazing’ has become a popular way for consumers to use wireless charging technology; where 63% of wireless charging users say they have done so in a public place, and of those respondents a further 72% say they have specifically chosen to visit a particular restaurant/coffee shop because it offered wireless charging.
Wireless charging beyond mobile phones
Aside from mobile phones, the laptop market is expected to see growth in coming years. The IHS Markit consumer survey results highlighted that 75% of consumers would like to see wireless charging technology adopted specifically into laptops (higher than any other product type).
Wearable devices were another application consumers said they wanted to see adopt wireless charging. The smart watch category is expected to ship almost 30 million receiver units in 2017 alone, but the potential for wireless charging in more niche applications is huge. With the launch of further products using inductive technology and announcements in the world of resonant and uncoupled technologies, strong growth is expected for the industry as a whole.
In a decade’s time, the applications for wireless charging will continue to grow far beyond the consumer niche it currently occupies. For the full potential of the wireless charging market to be achieved in replacing wired methods, it’s inevitable that there needs to be more than one method of charging – more than one single solution type – to allow for every application type, from consumer to industrial, medical to military and the ever-expanding potential of IoT sensors. What’s important for the industry as a whole is that all of these wireless power solutions are all now moving closer to market, and in the case of inductive is already proving itself in the mainstream.
The lessons from this year’s research though? Wireless charging is more capable than ever before, has higher demand and experience with consumers and is reaching ever more applications in 2017. Consumers want improvements, but they also love what they have. And growth in the next 12 months is set to be rapid too.