SEOUL — Jeffery McCreary, interim CEO at Integrated Device Technology Inc., revealed that IDT is gunning for the still embryonic but potentially huge wireless charging market, during his keynote speech here Tuesday, October 8, at the Analog Semiconductor Leaders' Forum, sponsored by Korea's specialty foundry Dongbu HiTek.
Wireless charging technology will let consumers "cut the last cord" restraining mobile, automotive and wearable devices, and give them "true mobility," McCreary said. "I can't imagine high-end phones coming out in the future without wireless power-charging capabilities."
IDT's interim CEO speaks at the Analog Semiconductor Leaders’ Forum in Seoul.
While the lack of a single standard in wireless charging schemes is likely to slow the market's technology adoption, there are two reasons for IDT's unwavering commitment to an opportunity that still contains a high uncertainty quotient.
First, IDT is armed with the industry's first -- and still the only -- dual-mode wireless power receiver IC compatible with both the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC) and Power Matters Alliance (PMA) standards. The company announced the product in April, this year. Second, cellular operators are already choosing sides in supporting different wireless charging schemes. AT&T and Sprint, for example, are going for PMA, while Verizon now prefers WPC. Such decisions force choices among handset OEMs who want to supply multiple operators. "Most OEMs now want a dual-mode solution," said McCreary, "which can be put on the same, single board."
IDT's dual-mode solution can automatically switch between WPC and PMA protocols and negotiate the power exchange without user supervision, explained Arman Naghavi, vice president and division general manager in charge of IDT's analog and power division.
To be clear, IDT's wireless charging chips -- transmitter IC and receiver IC -- are not designed into any current handsets or accessories on the market, which support either WPC or PMA. But with the company's dual-mode receiver chip a fait accompli, IDT believes that it can change the game.
Going after a wireless charging market that's still in the making, McCreary admitted, is "not for the faint heart."
The wireless charging technology world is split among three incompatible standards and divided into two camps. On one end of the spectrum, there are the WPC and PMA standards, both of which use magnetic induction technology. On the other end is the Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP) group -- initially founded by Intel and Qualcomm -- based on magnetic resonance technology.
Qualcomm recently made headlines and confused the industry a little more when it announced its membership in WPC, a rival organization to the Intel/Qualcomm-founded A4WP, to encourage the broad adoption of resonant and loosely coupled wireless charging. IDT's McCreary interpreted this move as Qualcomm not giving up magnetic resonance technology, but positioning itself to influence the WPC standard so that there will be better continuity to the A4WP standard in the future.