This evaluation report addressed to the VP is a critical analysis of the usability of wireless charging technology developed for smart devices. It covers observations, the findings, the major problems identified, and some recommendations for products improvement. The scope of this report is on user experiences of wireless charging technology. The report does not cover technical aspects of the technology. This report will be used for decision-making on how the company can improve its wireless charging technology.
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For many years, consumers have complained about capacities of their devices’ batteries. As smartphones become thinner and battery capacity increases, the dependency and screen time on smartphones, tablets, and other devices have increased – situations that put much pressure on the battery. Wireless charging could be the solution to this challenge.
Wireless charging is selected for evaluation because it will most likely become the standard means of charging smart devices in the near future and, therefore, manufacturers should understand its position and product performance from users’ perspectives.
An interview strategy was adopted where 20 subjects were interviewed about their perception of wireless charging in terms of its usability, benefits, disadvantages, and other relevant issues.
Semi-structured interviews with many key questions about wireless charging usability were used to help determine the main issues to be covered. This interview strategy also allowed the interviewer to deviate in order to explore usability issues in detail. The strategy was adopted because it provided guidance to participants on what to respond to about the wireless charging usability, which they found useful.
The semi-structured interview approach was preferred because of flexibility, which allowed the researcher to discover new information as participants elaborated their user experiences. New information provided by respondents was equally useful to this evaluation report.
The collected data from the quality research study were analyzed to make sense of them. The analysis process involved coding, categorizing, and making sense of the information on wireless charging. Notably, rich descriptive data were gathered from the research subjects, and common themes that emerged were identified. Thus, a thematic analysis was used.
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The thematic analysis, which is the common analysis form, involved identifying, evaluating, and recording common patterns or themes within the collected data about wireless charging. The themes identified were patterns that emerged across various data sets collected to describe different aspects of wireless charging technology. The themes were noted for each specific questions explored in the research.
These themes were used as the main categories for data analysis. A six-phase process was used in the thematic analysis of data. These phases included familiarization with research data, creating the first codes, extracting codes from the themes, evaluating the themes, categorizing and naming themes, and writing the final results.
The analysis process involved complete immersion to ensure that a precise and a systematic description of the findings were presented. As such, the analysis involved categorization into themes and interpretation of information to detect critical underlying trends in wireless charging.
Qualitative analysis ensured that raw data collected were used to provide explanation, comprehension, and interpretation of usability. The results showed meaningful and useful information for decision-making. Through this analysis technique, it was possible to understand the role of wireless charging in the modern world, why it was becoming popular, benefits and challenges users experienced, their coping strategies with such challenges, and their views on how to improve the technology.
Wireless charging is a relatively new technology, but is commonly found in most smartphone devices. Nonetheless, it is fair to say that the technology is yet to gain traction globally. As with any new technology, developers are still working on standards, performance improve, and finally to deliver the best product to end users.
Today, it is observed that many leading smartphone manufacturers have adopted and installed wireless charging capabilities in their new devices. As such, wireless charging is now becoming a widespread technology common across many devices and appealing to users.
Majorities have heard of wireless charging, but they are not conversant with how exactly it works. Perhaps, a large number of users considered this knowledge technical. In fact, wireless charging technology is based on intricate technologies. Additionally, there are also many different standards in the market striving to acquire market shares.
Despite technological complexities, many users understand how to set up their own wireless charging systems simply by checking standards that their smartphones support and then acquiring matching accessories. Many smartphones now support the Qi (“Chee”) standard, implying that wireless charging is gaining traction in the smartphone industry. Most users have iPhones, Samsung, LG, Microsoft Lumia, Sony, Motorola, Google, Asus, Blackberry, and others well-known new brands that now support wireless charging, as well as other lesser known models. Apart from Qi, smartphones are also equipped with AirFuel wireless charging standard. Users now acquire powering devices to try the new wireless charging technology on their smartphones.
Notably, not all users acquired wireless charging accessories from the same phone manufacturers. It is observed that all Qi-supported chargers functioned properly with all other Qi-enabled smartphones, and consumers have different options in the market. All they need is to check and confirm optimal power ratings on their smart devices and related accessories.
Like most technologies, wireless charging systems also bear some advantages and drawbacks to users. Many users claimed that it was a safer way to charge smartphones and other devices. Additionally, it is also easier to use and does not exert much pressure on the charging port. Many users expressed their preference because of the ease of charging even in the absence of a charging cable because charging pads are now widely available.
Conversely, users also express their disappointment with the slow rate of wireless charging technologies. It consumes more time to charge devices wirelessly. Comparatively, it is noted that charging devices from a wall power outlet is faster than wireless charging systems. Once a device is picked up from the charging pad, the charging is immediately interrupted, whereas charging via cables allows users to continue using their devices if there is a connection. Further, the new wireless charging accessories are expensive, and many users consider them as extra costs.
Wireless charging technology first appeared less than five years ago, but it was not widely used until recently. As with any other new technologies, users were curious about this revolutionary charging method. As such, this research was focused on understanding usability around this technology and any other relevant information users could provide to help improve new models.
Wireless charging simply refers to charging a smartphone or any other smart devices without plugging a cable into the device. Users simply put their devices on wireless charging mats or special charging tabletops to start charging their devices. However, the device to be charged must support wireless charging.
Users also showed that one needs a smartphone or a device that supports this technology to charge up their gadgets. Alternatively, smart devices without built-in wireless charging capabilities need special accessories (cases) to add that capability. Users also require a wireless charger, which can be bought separately. They are also available in different sizes and shapes and at various prices.
It was generally observed that most cases of wireless charging were slower than direct charging through a cable. This slow rate of charging was also noted in smartphones that were fitted with rapid-charging technologies, including Samsung Galaxy S8.
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Additionally, some wireless charging devices are efficient than others. For example, the latest superior chargers have capabilities to charge a smartphone fully in about two hours. Such wireless chargers tend to have higher rating for power output.
Charging Standards and Accessories
The wireless charging technology has been around for a few years, and users now understand that different wireless charging standards are available in the market today. Different developers have introduced multiple incompatible standards in the market. However, the most common wireless charging standard is the Qi. Qi is a standard by the Wireless Power Consortium alongside the so-called 247 members, which include Google, Samsung, Apple, and some well-known firms in the tech industry. Some of the latest smartphones and other devices from these manufacturers have built-in QI.
Another commonly cited wireless charging standard is AirFuel. It is imperative to recognize that users cannot recharge their Qi-enabled devices on AirFuel-supported accessories because of compatibility issues.
Qi remains the most widely used. Some users also claimed that their latest gadgets could support both Qi and AirFuel. Users are only encouraged to ensure that wireless charging accessories are compatible with their devices, and they should not be surprised if they fail to charge up on other charging mats. As previously observed, consumers are free to purchase accessories for their devices not necessarily from the same firms that manufacture their phones and other devices. Compatibility remains the most important factor for consideration.
How Wireless Charging Works
Not many users understand the complex technology behind wireless charging. The compound process involves the transfer of electric energy from the power source to a receiver located at the back of a smartphone through electromagnetic induction. The charger and the device must be in close proximity for charging to occur. No special arrangement is necessary, but the device must be placed on the top of the charging mat. The inductive charging is also found in rechargeable toothbrushes.
Pros and Cons of Wireless Charging
When wireless charging takes place, it is observed that some devices heat up to some extent on the back at the point of contact. It is also noted that devices also heat up a little when they are charged with a normal cable. Hence, this is a normal occurrence and should not be a source of worry to users. However, users should be concerned if their devices heat up considerably because it could be an issue affecting the battery, which could ultimately results in fire.
Although heating up may sound normal, it could indicate a long-term challenge associated with wireless charging. Further, extended exposure of the battery to heat may result in a damaged battery, possibly reducing power storage capacity. Hence, the battery may become weak after a few months of wireless charging. Users are also like to develop new behaviors of continuously charging or topping up. Hence, device manufacturers will have to build new devices that account for emerging charging behaviors associated with wireless charging technology.
Another major drawback is that wireless charging does not support devices with metal casing. Hence, most current devices are built with glass or plastic. These materials make them more delicate and prone to damages. Additionally, wireless charging may also fail to take place when thick casing is used. Smartphones equipped with glass cover will require additional glass slab to prevent damages and cracks. Replacements tend to be expensive, especially for Apple devices. Insurance is equally costly.
Many users also note that it is not easy though to use the device when it is charging. Thus, users fail to realize flexibility experienced with cable charging.
Users have touted this technology for convenience. It solves the problem of carrying charging cables or seeking one. In fact, convenience is the driving force behind mass adopt of this technology. A device can conveniently charge when not in hand. As many smartphone manufacturers embrace wireless charging technology, it will advance and become more common. Moreover, developers would strive for enhanced speed of charging and high voltage for mass appeal. For instance, the latest innovations promise to revolutionize wireless charging through immediate charging once the device is sufficiently close because of enhanced magnetic fields. As many developers strive to improve wireless charging, make it more reliable and even more effortless, it will eventually be the mainstream mode of charging up smart devices.
Users are normally excited about new technologies that manufacturers introduce in the market with the promise to revolutionize their practices and experiences, and wireless charging was no exception. However, some consumers used their wireless charging accessories and began to note challenges. Their experiences show that developers of wireless charging actually need to improve on some of the features.
Usability of wireless charging technology is hampered with speed and voltage. Users express their dissatisfaction with the amount of time it takes to charge up their devices – longer than cable charging even if their device is fitted with rapid charging features. For instance, one user noted that the device could be on the charging mat for an hour but only charges up to about 20%.
Obviously, developers of wireless charging technology need to increase voltage. For instance, the current systems are rated 5 watt, but there could be a possibility of improving the watts to optimal allowed to charge up smart devices faster. If the manufacturers can develop features that ensure that a device can charge up over 50 percent in 30 minutes, for instance, would be a great improvement.
That charging speed will automatically reduce the time it takes to recharge a device today. Hence, developers must improve their charging materials or their qualities and techniques to allow efficient transfer of power and minimize wastage. At the same time, they must also address the issue of heating up of gadgets when charging, which some users may consider abnormal, as well as the reduced battery life claims related with such challenges.
Users expect wireless charging that is more common and performing in terms of speed and voltage. The presence of wireless charging on some furniture from IKEA and in some restaurants, such as McDonald’s and Starbucks among others is aimed at making this technology ubiquitous. While such minor improvements would certainly not offer a major solution to every user who has complained of its drawbacks, they are certainly fundamental developments that enhance user experiences across various locations.
Developers are further challenged to ensure that wireless charging technology is available in the market with various applications. Such new applications should offer high power, safety, and efficiency in charging even other high-powered equipment, including tablets and laptops to ensure mass adoption and sustained commercial viability of this new technology.
Additionally, developers should also ensure that new features could deliver charging safely to a device when at a close range without necessarily struggling to align the two gadgets.
Presently, users decry the lack of portability associated with wireless charging technology. The charging mats are usually fitted on tables, denying users essentially an opportunity to recharge up their gadgets anywhere, anytime. Currently, one may purchase a charging for home, office, car, and other places they frequent. Therefore, consumers expect new features to include novel inventions like “Wi-Fi charging” capabilities to solve the problem of portability. That is, the capability to send power at a given distance without any wires involved.
The move toward wireless is largely supported by device manufacturers and first adopters. However, users currently must purchase wireless charging accessories separately, which ultimately increase costs. Nonetheless, users hope for offices, restaurants, homes, and furniture fitted with charging accessories for any devices. Such approaches may increase adoption and make wireless charging the mainstream mode of charging smart devices.
Manufacturers can promise new technologies to excite consumers about what to expect in the future concerning wireless charging technologies. They should demonstrate how this novel invention would transform how users interact with their gadgets and their environments.
Understanding user experience is extremely important for device manufacturers to improve their technologies and products. It is observed that wireless charging is gradually gaining traction and becoming the standard means of charging up smart devices. As such, manufacturers are now developing devices that can be recharged with no plug-in cables.
Despite its observed challenges, wireless charging is gaining attention and consumers now demonstrate acceptance. For many years, dependency and user screen time on devices have increased, putting much pressure on the battery. While battery capacity has improved, increased usages have reduced screen time and user experiences. Wireless charging appears to be the solution that can solve limited battery capabilities.
In that respect, users now experience flexibility and convenience associated with wireless charging. However, as this research shows, developers of wireless charging technologies must first address numerous challenges identified by users, specifically the speed of charging, voltage, and portability, as well as concerns about battery life and emerging user behaviors of constant top up charging.