The History of Wireless Charging

Wireless charging has been around for over 100 years, with relatively large leaps between revelations, advancements, and practical uses.  For those interested, here is a condensed timeline created by us to lay out the key points surrounding the technology's discovery and progress.

Complete history of wireless charging:

1831 - Michael Faraday is credited with the discovery of electromagnetic induction. He demonstrates in an experiment that a rotating electric current in a coil of wire could induce a current in another nearby coil of wire.

1890-1906 - Nikola Tesla spends most of his time and fortune on a number of experiments involving the wireless transmissions of power with the goal of powering the world and providing communications free of wires.  His experiments show traction in the field, but ultimately fail when he tries to scale his Wardenclyffe Towers large enough to be more than just a laboratory feat.

1894 - M. Hutin and M. Le-Blanc propose a magnetic induction power apparatus and method for powering an electric vehicle. However, combustion engines prove more popular, and this technology is forgotten for a time.


Wired technologies dominate and become the norm for city power grids, appliances, and consumer devices.  Combustion engines dominate and become the norm in vehicle usage.  Wireless technology goes, for the most part, dormant and later resurfaces when research becomes more refined.

1972 - Professor Don Otto of the University of Auckland proposes a vehicle powered by induction using transmitters in the road and a receiver on the vehicle.

1977 John E. Trombly is awarded a patent for an "Electromagnetically coupled battery charger" which describes an application to charge headlamp batteries for miners.

1978 - J.G Bolger, F.A. Kirsten, and S. Ng apply the principles of inductive charging to an electric vehicle powered with a system at 180 Hz with 20 kW.

1980s - A bus powered by inductive charging is produced in California. Similar work is being done in France and Germany around this time.

2006 MIT begins using resonant coupling. They are able to transmit a large amount of power without radiation over a few meters. This proves to be better for commercial needs, and is a major step for inductive charging.

2008 - The Wireless Power Consortium (WPC) is established.

2009Japan establishes Broadband Wireless Forum (BWF).

2010 - The WPC establishes the Qi Standard. The Energy Harvesting Consortium (EHC) is founded in Japan.

2011 - Korea establishes the Korean Wireless Power Forum (KWPF)

2012 - The Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP) and the Power Matter Alliance (PMA) are founded.

Nokia adopts Qi in its Lumia 920.

Samsung offers Qi charging capability on it's Galaxy S3 via a retrofittable official
Samsung back cover accessory.

The Google/LG Nexus 4 is released with Qi technology.

2013 - Japan establishes the Wireless Power Consortium for Practical Applications (WiPoT).

Toyota begins offering a Qi charging cradle as a factory option on its Avalon Limited.

Ssangyong is the second car manufacturer to offer a Qi option.

2015 - Samsung embeds a wireless charging integrated circuit into its Galaxy S6 and S6 edge devices, making wireless charging a basic option for their smartphone users.

Furniture retailer IKEA introduces lamps and tables with integrated wireless chargers.

WPC introduces the Qi Extended Power Profile (EPP) specification which supports up to 15 W.

WPC introduces Proprietary Power Delivery Extension (PPDE) to allow phone OEMs to deliver higher than Baseline Power Profile's 5W or the Extended Power Profile's 15W. Currently only Samsung has published their compliance test. Other phone companies that use proprietary standards for fast wireless charging include Apple, Huawei and Google.

An estimated 120 million wirelessly charging phones were sold this year, notably the Samsung Galaxy S6, which supported both Qi and the competing Power Matters Alliance standards.

2017 - The existence of several competing wireless charging standards is seen as a barrier to adoption and Qi displaces the other standards.

Apple introduces wireless charging in their 10th anniversary iPhone X model, together with the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus.

Apple announces plans to expand the standard with a new protocol called AirPower which would have added the ability to charge multiple devices at once; however, this is later canceled on March 29, 2019.

2018 - The Qi Wireless Standard is adopted for use in military equipment in North Korea, Russia and Germany.

2019 - Tesla offers an official wireless charger for its Model 3.

Apple kills AirPower charging station.

Apple releases the 2nd generation AirPods, which include a wireless charging case.

2020 - New Zealand publicly announces the trial the world's first long range wireless power transmission as an alternative to existing copper line technology. The Emrod technology works by using electromagnetic waves to safely and efficiently transmit energy wirelessly over vast distances.


As you can see, like with any other technology, once a certain advancement tipping point is passed and demonstrates it's application, the adoption and further advancement become rampant across multiple sectors. We saw this happen around 2012 with pioneers such as Nokia, Samsung, Google/LG, and Toyota.  Later, companies like Apple eventually adopted the technology for their iPhones and AirPods. 

Wireless charging is in our homes, warehouses, hospitals, office environments, vehicles, and practically everywhere else. The technology is quickly becoming more powerful, definitely more commonplace, and disruptive of the technologies which had previously overtaken it. We see this with the electric vehicles industry, which is about to explode.  As well as, potentially, with our power grids, like with New Zealand's Emrod trial. Let's see what the future has in store for it!