Wireless power transfer (WPT) is the transmission of power without wires, usually to recharge batteries. Although Nikola Tesla pioneered the concept of WPT and ushered in the wireless communication age, it was really the latest generation of smartphones that widely introduced the capability to charge a battery without a physical connection. A wide variety of industrial, medical, consumer and automotive applications are quickly applying this technology.
The benefits of wireless charging – convenience (no plugs or special connectors) and robustness (no contacts that can break and the ability to completely seal the product for use in harsher conditions) – are magnified further in applications that depend on mobility, especially as applications become more autonomous.
KNOWMAX, a Taiwanese company that specializes in wireless power solutions, uses TI’s C2000 real-time microcontrollers (MCUs), specifically the Piccolo™ F2803x – along with their own patented techniques – to provide customized software, firmware and hardware solutions for their customers. Their solutions are primarily placed in end applications such as transmitters for larger charging stations of tablets and power banks as well as the receivers inside tablets.
“TI’s C2000 MCUs give us the flexibility we need to adapt our systems to different markets, and have high-resolution pulse-width modulation (PWM) that enables precise control of our power stages. We also have a large software investment in these devices, including patented techniques for WTP,”
- Tank Huang of KNOWMAX Technology Ltd. Taiwan.
KNOWMAX Technology focuses primarily on 15W wireless power solutions. There are many low-cost 5W to 10W wireless power products on the market, but there are few products that can really support a 15W wireless power transmitter and 15W wireless power receiver like C2000 MCUs.
According to Huang, the company spent a lot of time developing a unique 15W solution. They also help customers integrate their solutions with their battery in the receiver so they can spend more time improving their own product. The integration of additional features is much easier with KNOWMAX’s product than with fixed-function modules.
For example, one of KNOWMAX’s customers built a 150W charging station that can charge up to 10 devices simultaneously. The company worked closely with them to develop a full, customized solution and even helped them pass Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Underwriters Laboratories (UL) certification.
Looking into the future of high power wireless solutions…
As we look into higher power levels, we will see wireless power solutions used in robotics, industrial utility and warehouse vehicles, electric cars and larger fleet and construction vehicles. More and more devices will integrate wireless power functions as the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) continues to evolve and grow – according to IHS Insights, IoT is projected to be comprised of as many as 75 billion connected things by 2025.
With the goal of making battery-powered applications easier to use and more robust – from the simple low-power inductive type used in personal electronics to the more complicated high-power resonant type used for dynamic and often autonomous applications – there is no doubt WPT systems will become more widespread.
In higher-powered applications where efficiency is more critical, C2000 MCUs will offer differentiated capabilities for companies like KNOWMAX in signal sensing, processing, flexible high-resolution PWM control of the high-frequency inverter, and system protection mechanisms. Considering the opportunity to develop WPT applications remains far reaching for developers across the globe, and the fact the IIoT is projected to continue experiencing unprecedented, exponential growth—now, more than ever, it’s time to cut cord.
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