Can Humavox Take Wireless Charging Mainstream?
A cup-like demo device—with or without a lid—suggests how a driver and passenger might drop a Fitbit or smartwatch into a car’s cupholder to charge during a drive, and a thin standing box suggests a charging receptacle that could fit in a car or a plane’s armrest. Or in a glove box. Or in a slot in a coffee table. The box itself can also be charged, and then used to wirelessly charge a device—for example, for the person with a hearing aid or glucose monitor who can’t risk the battery running out while traveling. This ability to “cut the cords” is another Humavox distinction, says Lachman. Even if that means reducing them down to one. Instead of having USB cords to charge a phone, a smartwatch, smart glasses, and whatever else so many of us will soon own, a person could have a single cord, attached to a single Nest recepticle, that can simultaneously charge everything. (The charge time is the same as when the device is charged via USB cord.) Nokia offers a line of wireless charging “pillows” that seem to do something similar—a phone lays down and wakes up “refreshed.” But Lachman dismisses this. “The issue with magnetic induction is that it’s limited. From a user experience you’re being asked to do stuff. The magnetic coils have to be perfectly coupled for it to work. You can set down your phone to charge overnight and you wake up and realize it’s only 30 percent charged, because you didn’t line it up perfectly.”Humavox is having conversations with various types of companies, including major semiconductor companies, working to arrange licensing- or royalty-based deals. In 2015, a device will come out in the hearing aid space featuring the technology. Humavox technology could work for smartphones and finally bring wireless charging into the mainstream mobile device market. But that’s for the mobile vendors to decide. “We focused where we did because we wanted to prove a point and solve a real problem,” said Lachman. “But hopefully now [companies] see they can include wireless charging in their whole portfolio, and not just one type of device.” Follow Michelle Maisto on Twitter.
He adds, “At the end of the day it comes down to user experience. We’re mimicking user habits.”