On Monday 31st August, Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. announced its latest offering to the wearable technology market, the Samsung Gear S2 smartwatch. The device comes in two different models, the Gear S2 and Gear S2 classic, and is due to start shipping in early October of this year.
Both models of the smartwatch come equipped with an inductive wireless charging solution, compatible with the Qi-standard technology, and a wireless charging dock shipped in the box. Pricing is yet to be announced.
With the Samsung announcement earlier this year of the Galaxy S6, Galaxy S6 edge and Galaxy S6 edge+, a lot of focus for integration of wireless charging technology has been on the mobile phone market. However, the release of the Gear S2 highlights another application with high growth potential – wearable technology.
In March this year when Apple announced it would be launching the Apple Watch (which ships with a proprietary inductive wireless charging solution), a lot of hype was created around the wearable technology product category. Although Apple Watch shipments have so far been slower than originally estimated, the device is still expected to account for just over 50% of all smartwatch shipments for 2015.
Like the Apple Watch, the Samsung Gear S2 uses inductive wireless charging technology as the only method of recharging the battery. However, the Gear S2 is Qi compliant which means it should be possible for users to charge it using any Qi-certified wireless charger in the ever growing wireless charging infrastructure – for example the Aircharge-supplied wireless charging stations in McDonald’s restaurants in the UK announced in early 2015.
Interoperability is clearly great news for mobile phone users who can charge their wireless-charging-enabled mobile phones in many public locations, however it is yet to be seen whether public wireless charging stations will be of any use to the market for wireless charging in wearable devices. User charging habits for wearable devices tend to be quite different to that for mobile phones or tablets. Wearable device are more likely to be charged at home overnight, rather than when users are in a public place – especially in the case of the Samsung Gear S2 which has a battery that can last up to 2-3 days. However, using commercially available and certified solutions can help to reduce cost compared to proprietary solutions, whilst a long-term future of interoperability between all transmitters and different receiver devices is a continued focus for the technology developers.
The Samsung announcement, continued updates and variant additions to the Apple Watch range as well as the constant emergence of new entrants to the market adds to the potential for wearable technology to be a big driver for wireless charging development. IHS forecasts 20 million wireless charging receivers to ship into the wearables application sector in 2015, with continued high growth over the next 5 years and a much higher attach rate of transmitters than for mobile phones or tablets.
With the ability to make consumer life easier being one of the key selling points for both wearable applications and wireless charging technology, a combination of the two technologies is definitely a huge step in the right direction for end-user experience. The 2nd Edition of the IHS study – wireless charging in wearable technology, due to publish in December 2015, will highlight further areas of opportunity for wireless charging in wearables along with an updated forecast for the next 5 years.