SANTA CLARA, Calif. Ė Wireless charging of mobile devices, simply by laying the device on a suitably wired plate or desktop, seems like an attractive option. Some proponents say 2013 will be a breakthrough year for the technology. Others ask which standard will hold sway and whether convenience will win out over efficiency of energy transfer.
The technology is in place to provide 5-watt chargers that operate at up to 40-mm distance with moves to increase power levels to 15 watts. But efficiency is highly spatially dependent. In addition multiple industry organizations exist and it is not yet clear where the momentum lies.
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Established in 2008 and now with more than 125 members, the Wireless Power Consortium is the largest industry association working towards the standardization of wireless charging technology. However, that does not make the success of the organization, or of its standard, called Qi (pronounced chee) automatic.
For a start some significant players are backing alternative approaches. Qualcomm, Samsung, Broadcom and others are in an alternative consortium, the Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP) and Intel is still pursuing a proprietary approach.
Qualcomm's alternative position is significant because it held a 48 percent market share of application processors in smartphones in the first half of 2012, according to market researcher Strategy Analytics, providing it with an opportunity to influence decisions by providing reference designs.
Samsung is a member of both A4WP and the Wireless Power Consortium, showing that there is still much to play for.