Technology has made leaps and bounds in the last decade, with the use of cell phones, tablets, and laptops skyrocketing. With this growth comes the need to streamline mobile technology and keep up with the increasing demands. The need was addressed in 2006, when development began on inductive coupling technology for a wireless charging system that would charge mobile devices without the use of wires or cords. This technology uses electrical currents passed through wire coils to create a magnetic field. Devices with similar wire coils absorb that power when they enter the field, charging the device wirelessly.

In 2008, Leggett & Platt partnered with a technology company and jointly developed the wireless charging application, focusing on enhancements to reliability and manufacturability.

This refined product is called Helios and uses inductive coupling to power devices.

It was in these early stages of development that Leggett & Platt became a member of the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC) – a committee that worked together to define a wireless charging standard. They wanted to ensure compatibility between devices. That standard, Qi (pronounced “chee”), is now a global norm, and the Consortium has grown to more than 100 companies joined in the efforts.

Once the wireless charging technology was established, engineering work by the Leggett & Platt IDEA Center began in order to refine some of the possible Helios applications. Some needed a lot of work, such as automotive and power tool applications. However, Leggett & Platt quickly saw the value in further developing the wireless charging technology.

“The real benefit of it is simple – the elimination of any charging cables,” said Jason Turner, Director of Controls and Technology at the IDEA Center. “Devices can be made water tight, drivers can keep their eyes on the road without having to find a little plug on the bottom of their phone, and users can have multiple charging spots throughout their daily working environment and constantly ‘power snack’ each time they set their devices down.”

The Helios wireless charging system provides a safe, convenient way to power devices. Because there are no cords, devices are protected from power surges and the risk of electric shock is reduced. Multiple types of devices can be charged, regardless of voltage, and only the necessary power is supplied to fully charge the device.

“This technology opens up many opportunities. There are already over 200 Qi-compatible devices on the market, with cell phones being the most prevalent.

Looking ahead, we expect to see wireless charging in tablets, laptops, appliances, office equipment, power tools, and more.

The impact will be far-reaching,” said LeRoy Johnson, Senior Director of Emerging Technology at Leggett & Platt.

See how Leggett & Platt is making an educational difference by providing wireless charging to students at Saline High School in Michigan.
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