A cup holder that wirelessly charges electronic devices in a 3D space has been developed by ETRI in South Korea. It is dubbed as ‘E-Cup‘ and can charge multiple devices placed inside the 10 cm-wide holders at the same time, at the same rate as wired chargers, regardless of orientation or position of the devices.

Shaped just like a circular cup holder, the wireless charger generates and maintains a constant and uniform magnetic field. The electric current wirelessly flows to the batteries inside the electronic devices based on the magnetic resonance.

The newly developed technology has a wide range of potential applications including phones, although it is still in infancy. But at the same time it has a great potential to be improved

Says Dr. Ho-Jin Lee, the AVP of the Radio & Satellite Research Division of ETRI.

The team debuted the E-Cup at the Consumer Electronics Show 2017 (CES2017) held in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. While it matches the speed of wired chargers, it is less efficient; its power conversion reaches to about 60% when calculated in terms of DC-to-DC conversion systemwise. The team is working on raising that to 70% before the product can be commercialized. When this technology comes to market, people can easily and freely charge the cellular phone wirelessly.

ETRI's Cup Holder Charges Phones Wirelessly
ETRI’s Cup Holder Charges Phones Wirelessly

ETRI has been working on wireless charging for several years. From 2015, ETRI developed a 3D wireless charging technology based on magnetic resonance for electric bikes, drones and smart devices. They succeeded to overcome the limitations of its 2D design and expand to 3D design to accelerate the freedom of charge without a loss of efficiency.

The research team considers this a ‘generic‘ technology that can be applied to all areas of industry. The market for wireless charging devices is expected to grow to nearly 1 billion USD in 2022, according to the U.S.-based firm Markets and Markets. Besides smartphone chargers, ETRI is focused on developing highly efficient and safe wireless energy transfer technologies applicable to charge multiple devices in huge spaces, such as living rooms.

About ETRI – the Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute

Established in 1976, ETRI is a non-profit Korean government-funded research organization that has been at the forefront of technological excellence for 40 years. In the 1980s, ETRI developed TDX (Time Division Exchange) and 4M DRAM. In the 1990s, ETRI commercialized CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access).

In the 2000s, ETRI developed Terrestrial DMB, WiBro, and 4G LTE Advanced, which became the foundation of mobile communications. As a global ICT leader, ETRI has been advancing communication and convergence by developing SAN (Ship Area Network) technology, Genie Talk (world class portable automatic interpretation; Korean-English/Japanese/Chinese), and automated valet parking technology.

ETRI has about 2,000 employees where about 1,800 are researchers. Please visit https://www.etri.re.kr/eng/main/main.etri

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