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Wireless charging becoming industry standard

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This year is set to be a revolutionary year for the growth of wireless charging deployment as wireless charging stations become available in more public places as well as in cars and secondary battery packs.

In 1891, renowned inventor and futurist Nikola Tesla became the first person to introduce inductive charging when he successfully demonstrated the wireless transfer of energy. However, it took over a century for this technology to find its way into mainstream consumer use.

“Over the past few years, wireless charging has emerged in the consumer electronics market space, mainly in the form of smartphones and smartphone accessories,” explains Craige Fleischer, Director of Integrated Mobility at Samsung Electronics South Africa. “This technology is now being integrated into a variety of technological devices, appliances, public spaces and even vehicles, as companies look to make power cords obsolete and turn the world into the Tesla-envisioned reality,”

Until now, commercial products have mainly used the “magnetic-inductive” method of charging which involves connecting a device to a physical dock. If you have ever used an electric toothbrush or shaver, then you are probably familiar with this type of inductive charging.

Consumer Benefits and Industry Solutions

A simple wireless charging solution eliminates the need to carry several different chargers for multiple devices. The goal has been to provide consumers with the ability to utilise one wireless charging dock that is compatible with all the devices they already own, as well as all the devices they may buy in the near future.

Fleischer continues, “The industry has been collaborating to establish a series of organisations to standardise wireless charging technologies. Currently there are three such organisations, namely: the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC), the Power Matters Alliance (PMA) and the Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP). Samsung is a member of all of these three groups.”

In January of this year, the PMA and A4WP announced that they would join forces to offer even better wireless charging features for a variety of devices. This means that soon, restaurants, airports, public spaces, vehicles and living spaces of all description will finally unburden consumers of having to remember to carry multiple power cords everywhere. Soon the anxiety of running out of battery power and the hassle of all the charging cables taking up unnecessary space in their bags could be obsolete.

Samsung’s Commitment to a Wireless Future

“In late 2000, Samsung created a task team to exclusively focus on wireless charging and began extensive research and development. Our goal was to develop a technology that was easy to use and convenient for consumers, in order to promote and drive the widespread adoption of wireless technology standards. Several obstacles had to be overcome for wireless charging technology to succeed in the market, most notably the size and price of some of the most crucial components,” Fleischer adds.

“This hard work came to fruition in 2011, when we introduced our first commercial wireless charging pad for Droid Charge (SCH-i510) in the US. Since then, Samsung has provided wireless charging covers and pads as a core accessory alongside many of its flagship smartphones, such as the Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note 3 in 2013 and the Galaxy S5 and Galaxy Note 4 in 2014.”

A key factor to make wireless charging technology more widely available has been making the production costs more manageable by strategically partnering with the right raw material suppliers and component companies.

Samsung also developed innovative ways to merge and combine components more efficiently, this allowed the technology to generate more power and take up less space. In the early stages of inductive charging, the Galaxy S4 charging pads were comprised of about 80 separate elements. For the Galaxy S5, developers were able to reduce the number drastically, to a much more manageable 50 elements and efforts are being made to decrease this number even further. The company’s unique ability to combine parts that are capable of handling more than one function, has allowed commercialisation to finally become a reality.

Wireless charging has also come a long way in terms of charging speed. Two or three years ago, it was only twenty to thirty percent as efficient as wired charging. But since then, the speed has been doubled.

2015 – A Landmark Year for Smartphone Wireless Charging

Last year, parts that support multiple standards on a single chip were released. Given that it usually takes around 6 to 12 months to integrate new components and put them on the market, it is expected that several of these products will be available to consumers this year.

This comes as the ecosystem for wireless charging continues to rapidly grow and mature. In addition to IT companies, leading brands from a wide range of industries, such as consumer electronics, semi-conductors, mobile services, automotive, furniture, software and others have joined the effort and are working closely together.

Samsung has led the way with wireless charging, showcasing the latest technology with its flagship smartphones, the Galaxy S6 and S6 edge. “It is expected that 2015 will be a landmark year for the growth of wireless charging deployment, as wireless charging stations will begin to appear in more and more public places as well as in cars and secondary battery packs. Samsung will accelerate its efforts to make wireless charging technology widely available. With the Galaxy S6 smartphones, users will be able to enter a new wireless world like never before,” concludes Fleischer.

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AppDate: Shedding light in our times of darkness

SEAN BACHER’S app roundup highlights two load-shedding apps, along with South AfriCAM, NBA 2K Mobile, Virgin Mobile’s Spot 3.0 and SwiftKey.

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Load Shedding Notifier

With all the uncertainty about when South Africans will next be plunged into darkness by Eskom, the Load Shedding Notifier tries its best to keep up with Eskom’s schedule. The app is very simple to use. Download it, type an area in and click the save button. The app automatically tells you what load shedding stage Eskom is on, the times you can expect to start lighting candles and for how long to burn them.

Multiple areas can be added and one can switch between the different stages to see how each one will affect a certain area.

A grid status is also displayed, showing how strained the country’s electrical network is.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device

EskomSePush Load Shedding App

EskomSePush does much the same as the Load Shedding Notifier, but allows multiple cities to be tracked. However, they may just want to rethink the name of the app if they want wider respectability.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device

South AfriCAM

South AfriCAM enables users to add branded stickers and frames from popular lifestyle magazine titles to their posts, including Huisgenoot, YOU, Drum, Move!, TRUE LOVE, Women’s Health and Men’s Health. 

In the process, they can earn JETPoints for their social influence: through the app’s built-in JET8 social currency, users are rewarded for their engagement. For every in-app like, comment, and share, users earn JETPoints, which can be used to redeem products online or over the counter across more than 2 500 retail stores in South Africa. Users are additionally awarded JETPoints for cross-posting onto external social media networks.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device

Click here to read about console quality graphics on a mobile phone, Virgin Money payments made easier, and an app that redesigns the keyboard.

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Drones to drive
Western Cape agritech

Aerobotics is set to change how farmers treat their crops by using drones and machine learning, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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The Western Cape is poised to be a hotbed of innovation in the agritech sector, with drone piloting set to playing a major role in in the tech start-up scene.

This is the view of Tim Willis, chief operating officer of pioneering drone company Aerobotics, a Cape Town drone company recognised as a world leader in agritech.

“Drone piloting is a key skill that feeds into the value chain of the budding 4th Industrial Revolution,” said Willis. “Cape Town and the Western Cape is uniquely positioned to be the melting pot for innovation in the agritech sector, as a leading agricultural exporter and a hub for creative tech start-ups.”

He was speaking at AeroCon, a drone expo organised by Aerobotics and held in Johannesburg this week aimed at providing opportunities for drone pilots to apply their skills in South Africa, and to show how drones are being used to collect data on crops. 

The event was supported by the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA), Wesgro, PROMMAC, MicaSense, and Rectron, among other

“We’re starting to sign up farmers across the country,” said Willis. “It’s exciting because farmers are starting to use drone technology on their farms. When a farmer wants a drone flown, they want it flown [now] so it’s important for us to capture that data as quickly as possible to show that drones are fast and effective.”

According to aerobotics, drone technology can help farmers reduce pesticide use on their crops by up to 30%. The result is environmentally friendly farming, reducing stressed crops and a healthier harvest. 

“We use aerial imagery from drones to recreate a 3D model of every single tree on a farmer’s orchard,” said Willis. “We’ve done this for millions of trees and it starts to give the farmers metrics of what they’re doing. We provide them with the health of the trees, the height, the volume, the canopy area, which enable the farms to make decisions on what to do next.”

Click here to read more about AeroCon and what it offers to those wanting to get into the drone industry.

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