Wireless power manufacturing seen as an emerging market
Wireless power transmitters which enable wire-free power transfer to consumer devices, are projected to account for 75% of combined transmitter/receiver revenues by 2016, according to a new study on the wireless power industry from IMS Research.
Wireless power transmitters are more complicated than receivers due to multiple power conversion stages and additional components, meaning a higher price. While the cost for a wireless power receiver may eventually fall into the $1-2 dollar range (if built into products), IMS Research believes the transmitter cost will remain well above this amount. Current retail prices of transmitters range from $50 to $100. These prices are projected to fall as volumes ramp up and the supply chain matures. How fast this happens will be a critical factor in the maturity of the wireless power industry.
Jason dePreaux, a research manager with IMS Research, explains. “Cost is certainly a barrier to wireless power adoption. A popular saying in the industry is that ‘if it were free, we’d see it everywhere’. Obviously that’s not realistic, but with the transmitter there’s only so low you can go.”
Wireless power transmitters can range from basic single-zone designs to more advanced implementations which can charge multiple devices. dePreaux adds, “Future transmitter offerings will be more efficient and flexible in terms of device placement. But the availability of low-cost, basic transmitters is just as important in creating an sizable installed base. It would really kick-start the market if a wireless charger were bundled together with a new mobile phone.”
Though the wireless power market is still in its infancy, it offers massive potential, especially in mobile phone applications. Currently, wireless power is available as an optional feature, requiring the consumer to purchase both the transmitter and receiver separately from the device. Future plans call for wireless power receivers be built into a host of consumer products and for transmitters to be placed into homes, offices, and automobiles. IMS Research projects that the annual market for wireless power will reach $4.5 billion by 2016.
“I still think it is a couple of years away from taking off,” added dePreaux. “There is a lot of R&D going on at the moment on putting wireless power transmitters into automobiles. Yet there are specific considerations, like coil-to-coil distances and transmission frequencies, that will require current wireless power technologies to evolve to meet particular use cases like this. The encouraging sign is that there is a strong dialog among the parties and genuine interest in making it happen.”