Singapore smartphone company, MWg, has reportedly announced that later this year it will be launching handsets which do not require cables to charge up. Using inductive charging, the devices need only be placed next to the charging device for a period of time, and the battery power inside the phone will be replenished.

This method of charging completely eliminates the need for cables.

Inductive charging uses electromagnetic induction to transfer energy between two devices. The charger station uses a coil of insulated copper wire to create an electromagnetic field with alternating polarity. A similar coil inside the portable device converts power from that electromagnetic field back into electrical current which charges the device's battery.

Examples of inductive charging can already be found in many electric toothbrushes and wireless headphones.

An age of wireless electricity

The drawback of this system is that the portable device needs to be left in close proximity to the base unit in order to charge up. And by the very nature of the physics involved, this kind of charging takes a lot longer to fill a battery than traditional conductive charging using cables.

Inductive charging is also a less efficient way of charging than simply using plugs and wires. A lot of energy is wasted as heat for example. It's one of the main obstacles that scientists have been trying to overcome to make inductive charging a more viable option for use in future gadgets.

In years to come, it is expected that methods of inductive charging will be further refined and that the technology will eventually be used in the vast majority of portable gadgets like phones and MP3 players.

Back in June 2007, MIT researchers actually found that by making the device and the charger resonate at the same frequency, they could increase the range of inductive charging by up to a few metres. They demonstrated the technology by eliminating a 60W light bulb using a power source placed two metres away.

The technology is still some distance away from making it into mass market devices though. But MWg’s announcement certainly proves that it’s not quite as far away as some perhaps thought.