SAN JOSE, Calif. – Qualcomm powered up its plans for wireless charging market, licensing technology to Gill Electronics for an undisclosed sum. The two say they expect to see in 2014 products including cars and office furniture using their implementation of the spec from the Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP).
The competing Wireless Power Consortium (WPC) was the first to market and claims as many as 8.5 million products have shipped using its Qi technology, some based on chips announced last fall by Texas Instruments. Intel demonstrated its own approach to wireless charging which it said would hit the market later this year.
The A4WP spec adopted by Qualcomm and Gill uses a 6.78 MHz frequency. It avoids the heat generated by the competing WPC technique running several hundred KHz, said Brad Miller, director of advanced development at Gill (Grand Rapids, Mich.). It also uses Bluetooth already embedded in mobile products to create a control channel between the charger and mobile devices.
In addition, the A4WP spec uses smaller antennas than the inductive coils needed for WPC. That allows for greater miniaturization and less potential interference with other wireless signals such as near-field communications, he said.
“I expect we will have products in the market by the end of this year, with mass market adoption taking place in 2014 when other A4WP members start delivering consumer devices with the technology already embedded into the devices,” Miller said in an email exchange.
Those products will include aftermarket accessories to add to car storage bins and armrests. Gill also is pursuing design wins in office furniture.
“We have products that can be embedded up inside work surfaces or simply attached to the bottom of any work surface up to 30mm thick and transmit power through the entire work surface while still maintaining the spatial freedom and flexibility to provide different levels of power to different devices at the same time,” he said.
Qualcomm’s WiPower implementation of A4WP lets users charge multiple devices on a single charging surface at the same time, even if they have different power requirements. It delivers up to 22W and enables charging devices without physical contact to charge area, said a Qualcomm spokesman.
By contrast WPC chips released by TI in November enabled a 70 x 20 mm charging area.
Competition is key to technological advancement. Competing standards exist because different companies how different ideas about how wireless charging should be done. The market will ultimately determine which standard will last.
In my opinion, A4WP is the strongest contender thanks to their use of magnetic resonance for power transfer. WPC and the lesser-known PMA are currently focused on inductive charging, which as mentioned in the article, has significant disadvantages in comparison.
In addition to having the better technology, A4WP also has the backing of three very big names: Qualcomm, Intel, and Samsung.
Competition is good. It weeds out the inferior products and standards.
I would think that if anyone can get their wireless charging system into laptops, tablets, and readers then the market could be almost ready. It takes a lot of infrastructure to make a standard successful. If one system is cheaper to implement or better at charging (aka faster) then that could be a key differentiator. So far, I have not seen any compelling systems proposed. 22 Watts delivered is not bad for a cell phone but what about a laptop or tablet? I wonder if this system can deliver more say 100W or 150W?
Competing wireless charging systems and the need to implement the wireless system on the device side (receiver) and power system side (outlet) suggest that we have a long way to go. If the devices require an external adapter "coil" as the wireless receiver, then the extra baggage doesn't really do much good. It might as well be a supplemental battery with a standard outlet cord. It seems like we still have a long way to go. I fear that we are moving towards vendor specific wireless charging protocols and the prospect of an array of wireless charging stations at home - just as we have an array of wired charging stations at home now.
A4WP includes a large number of Taiwanese players,
TI, Sandiak, NXP and BRCM.the latecomeers - Intel,
How many of these guys are serious about the
A4WP standard remains to be seen. Perhaps Samsung
will eventually come up with their own.
The photo on the cover of this story is of an ancient NON wireless charging mat that uses contacts on the custom battery cover of those Motorola RAZRs to make contact with those metal strips on the mat below.
Either way, A4WP is the way to go from my limited understanding and let's hope that AAPL adopts it too so we can be done with all their expensive accessories and charge our iDevices on the same pads as our Androids.
Hopefully MS/Nokia will adopt A4WP too for future Lumias.
Do we know what the efficiencies are with wireless charging ? I know there are losses in everything, but seems like in this age of making things cleaner and more efficient, wireless charging is just going to waste more electricity for a small trade off in convenience?
Competition is not always contrary to standardization. I agree that there may be a reason for non-compliance adding value above a standard (like Atheros did with their 108G).
But, industry designed in to a standard knowing that they would not have to redesign in less than a year in order to work well with the commodity/standards. Early adopters of 108G WiFi knew that it would work with the rest of the world of they just disabled the Atheros extension.
Imagine deciding you want to implement a product but, you are waiting for some standards before you do so. Imagine every vendors pedantic suborn decision that everyone must comply withe their implementation. Now imagine we wait another 3 years for these vendors to be winnowed down creating a defacto standard before we decide to use the feature. Welcome to competition...