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Vehicle manufacturers embrace wireless charging in cars

An increasing number of vehicles over the next year will be released with wireless charging either built in or available as an add-on. But unlike the Qi chargers we use in our homes, these vehicle chargers offer a lot more to users, and are set to continue getting better with each generation.

Between the Windows Phones, Android Phones, and even special cases for the iPhone, there are a lot of phones on the market today that are capable of wireless charging. Qi charging hasn’t seen any explosive growth, but the number of phones that support the tech continues to grow anyway. As a result, some vehicle manufacturers have started to release Qi charging baked right into their cars.

You can’t just release a car with a plate somewhere to set your phone on, though, and if you use Qi with a mount that grips the phone it defeats the point somewhat. Vehicle manufacturers needed to approach Qi charging differently, and the end result is undeniably cool.

It started with the already released Toyota Avalon, and will add the Jeep Grand Cherokee and the Toyota Prius this year. The Avalon has a special platter under the stereo where you can put your phone and enable Qi charging. The platter doesn’t require the user to line up the phone in a specific spot, as a multi-coil layout under the platter makes it so you can set the phone anywhere on the tray. You can’t charge multiple phones on the platter yet, but during a conversation with Wireless Power Consortium members it was clear that this is a feature vehicle manufacturers have in mind for future versions.

Because this is an in-car solution, it was necessary to include some safety measures that you wouldn’t usually see in Qi plates in the home. A lot of research went into where these trays should be placed and how they work in the car. The grippy surface holds your phone while you drive, and their placement is designed to reduce the likelihood of your phone flying around in the car in the event of an accident. The car chargers also include a foreign object detection system that ties in with the car itself. If you’ve filled your Qi-enabled tray with coins or keys and try to charge your phone, a notification will appear on the dash and the Qi won’t activate until they are removed.
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