New York Knicks season-ticket holders flocking to Madison Square Garden this year will participate in a corporate giveaway that will be closely watched far beyond the NBA. Some 5,000 Knicks fans will get specially designed smartphone cases that will allow them to charge their iPhones wirelessly from 550 charging spots in the arena’s corporate suites and eighth-floor viewing area. Procter & Gamble and other companies underwriting the promotion hope it helps usher in an era in which people’s mobile devices become cord-free appendages.
Although the consumer demand is potentially huge, wireless charging has been slow to take off. There are currently fewer than 10 million devices in circulation in the U.S. able to charge wirelessly, mostly phones and accessories, according to researcher IHS. But as the technology has improved, that’s changing. Global shipments of wirelessly charged devices are projected to rise from 5 million units this year to nearly 100 million by 2015, according to IHS.