SAN FRANCISCO — Intel has announced a technology licensing agreement with wireless charging company WiTricity, further driving adoption of magnetic resonance technology. While consumer acceptance of wireless charging currently suffers because of a lack of standardization, Intel may provide the big-name appeal to push loosely coupled coil charging.
Sanjay Vora, Intel vice president and general manager of user experience, said in a
We have overwhelming feedback from end users that they are frustrated with dealing with all the different wires and power adapters for their devices – phones, tablets, and PCs. At Intel, we have a vision to eliminate all wires from all of our platforms. This agreement is a major step in the right direction enabling our companies to work together to deliver the next generation of devices that eliminate the need for power cords.
Many available wireless charging devices are based on tightly coupled coils in a device receiver and charging transmitter, which must be closely aligned for power to pass. WiTricity’s technology, known as resonance or “Rezence,” offers more flexibility in the distance between the coils. The Intel-WiTricity partnership will allow wireless charging to be built in from the ground up and accelerate a resonance adoption as early as next year, WiTricity’s Kaynam Hedayat told EE Times.
“Intel is leveraging our expertise in magnetic resonance in terms of designing the coils and… scaling that architecture across various power levels,” said Hedayat, vice president of marketing and product management. “The partnership is really using the same experimental products Intel has been doing and extending it to real products, bringing them to market.”
At this year’s CES, Intel debuted a resonance-based wireless charging bowl for wearable devices. Although Hedayat could not discuss specific products Intel and WiTricity will collaborate on, he said Intel aims to increase the charging range of resonance devices and refine methods for charging multiple power-hungry devices at once.
“Intel demonstrated the technology embedded into a prototype notebook, tablet, smartphone and wireless headset. Each was lowered on to a table top which had an [Association 4 Wireless Power] ‘Rezence’ wireless charger fixed underneath it and began charging when it came within range,” IHS wireless power analyst Ryan Sanderson wrote. “What Intel has demonstrated is also a push towards and the potential of higher power wireless charging for notebooks.”
Despite Intel’s renewed attachment to resonance charging -- the company is already on the board for Association 4 Wireless Power, an industry group touting the technology -- Hedayat expects consumer acceptance to mount slowly. Rollout will occur first in handsets, then laptops and ultrabooks, followed by wearable devices.
“We saw more traction with the automotive industry because it isn’t married to standards,” he said, noting that Toyota will run wireless charging in the next-generation Prius. “In 2014-2015, we will see uptake in [wireless charging in] consumer electronics.”
— Jessica Lipsky, Associate Editor, EE Times