ABI Research (www.abiresearch.com) says that the installed base of mobile devices (smartphones, basic mobile phones, wearables, tablets, and notebooks) will reach 8 billion by 2019, providing a huge installed base for rechargeable batteries and charging solutions.
“Mobile device hardware, software, and usage have developed at an incredible rate in recent years, from network speeds, to screen resolution and size, to processing power,” says Nick Spencer, senior practice director with the research group. “End user’s reliance on their smartphones also grows and grows, with mobile data usage experiencing exponential growth. One crucial part of the overall solution, battery life and charging technology, has been a laggard to date. Short battery life remains the biggest irritation to smartphone users and is a clear opportunity for handset vendors and carriers to improve the user experience by adopting new, longer-lasting battery technologies. Additionally, the growth in size-constrained wearable devices makes the problem even more acute.”
Battery technology has not kept pace with hardware and usage growth, still relying on Lithium and graphite batteries and one-to-one wired charging solutions (typically Micro-USB chargers). This may be about to change with new battery technology in the form of silicon anode batteries already in production, from companies like Amprius and Leyden Energy, and Germanium and pure Lithium variants experiencing recent breakthroughs in their stability becoming a possibility in the near future.
“The opportunity is enormous,” says Spencer. “ABI Research estimates that the average advanced market home has over 10 untethered devices with rechargeable batteries today. The growth in wearables driven by the likes of Samsung and now Apple will increase this number further, along with the Internet of Things, and even electric cars. Battery technology is holding these innovative growth industries back and the rate of change, in what is admittedly a huge supply chain, is a concern.”
He adds that the battery charging market beyond wired Micro-USB chargers is also ripe for change with multi-device inductive charging mats reducing in price and integrating into public environments like cafes and airports; a bit like Wi-Fi. More subtle forms of charging may also be made possible like ambient radio frequency energy harvesting and even dedicated beamed radio frequency energy routed to your device.