The smart home industry is now entrenched enough to consider it a permanent part of the U.S. economic landscape. Companies of all sizes sell everything from individual smart home components to complete systems. There is no reason to believe sales will not continue to increase as time goes by. However, the rate at which industry revenues grow may rely on how quickly wireless charging technology advances.
Digital Trends’ John Velasco wrote a piece in early September 2020 discussing this very thing. In the title of his peace, he proposed that the ideal smart home won’t be possible until we get rid of the wires. That is an intriguing supposition given how much wireless technology already influences smart homes. Nonetheless, it is worthy of discussion.
We Have Mastered the Data
The smart home industry has obviously made inroads into wireless data. According to Vivint Smart Home, your typical component in the 21st century relies on wireless wi-fi communication for day-to-day operations. When wi-fi is not available, homeowners can install devices that utilize cellular connections. This is all well and good for the data component of smart home design. But what about the power?
Velasco observed, for the purposes of writing his piece, just how many surge protectors and charger packs were plugged into his wall outlets. Needless to say, he was nonplussed. In his own words, “it’s almost a 1:1 ratio when it comes to chargers and devices.”
Let’s face it, that smart speaker from Google or Amazon still has to be plugged into the wall. So does the smart home hub. Velasco points out that so many wires is aesthetically displeasing. But there is more to it. Imagine you live in a city like Las Vegas, Nevada.
Reducing Demand for Power
Due to high summer heat, Nevada utilities are under the gun to provide enough power during peak demand. They have taken to asking customers to conserve energy in order to avoid rolling brownouts. All of those electronic devices plugged into so many outlets put constant strain on an already overtaxed system.
Wireless charging, by definition, dictates that the devices themselves run off of batteries. Therein is the key. Battery-powered devices can be charged during the overnight hours when the demand for electricity is at its lowest. This reduces demand during peak hours, giving cities like Las Vegas a better chance of keeping up with demand throughout the year.
In theory, wireless charging would also reduce the amount of electricity consumed by phantom devices – those devices that continue drawing power from outlets even though they are not technically on. How so? By the very nature of battery power.
In order to preserve batteries, device makers rely on computer chips to store the data devices need on boot up. The devices themselves draw very little battery power when turned off. It is designed that way to preserve battery life. If the same mentality we used it to design other electronic devices, like smart home components, we might be able to break this habit of drawing unnecessary phantom power.
No More Wires
Velasco is looking for the smart home to eventually be wire free. That is an honorable goal and one that is achievable. We have already mastered wireless data transfer. We already know and understand the basics of wireless charging. Now it is just a matter of perfecting the latter for widespread use in smart home design.
Imagine your next home powered by smart devices that do not have to be plugged into the wall. No power cables mean better aesthetics, more flexibility, and highly configurable systems that are location agnostic. Now that is smart.