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Thursday, 05 November 2015 08:28

Wireless charging – three players and no standard yet

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For wireless charging to become ubiquitous three types – PMA, WPC (Qi) and A4WP must combine.

PMA and A4WP will unite under the AirFuel Alliance to fast track adoption of wireless charging.

The Alliance represents over 195 member companies, including Intel, Samsung, AT&T, and Starbucks.

Gary Matos from Intel, and is director of strategic marketing for the A4WP, agreed that, eventually, a peace is needed. “Convergence will need to take place. I suspect it is not going to be too, too far off in the future.”

That leaves WPC (Qi) as the original. It claims to have the bulk of the market share of at least 50 million units and over 900 manufacturers/devices. Its original version typically outputs 5W and takes between three to five hours to charge a modern Qi smartphone with a 2000mAh or greater battery.

It has new technology that can deliver 15W which meets the needs of Qualcomm’s Fast Charge 2.0 or a 60% charge in just 30 minutes. What is unclear is if it will charge phones using only the Alliance offering and whether it can support tablets that require 2.1A charging.

The smartphone industry sees wireless charging – especially fast charging – as important although many manufacturers will change future products to the new USB-C that can charge even faster so it may lose its appeal.

“The standards war presents a false choice,” A4WP president and board chair Kamil Grajski said in a statementy. “The A4WP/PMA merger is in the same spirit: Enable the market to apply technologies to their best use cases.”

The three technologies use a form of inductive charging. A4WP uses Rezence – resonant inductive charging, PMA uses its form of inductive charging, and WPC uses inductive charging – the former requires far greater sophistication in the charger base and the device but has a more efficient energy transfer.

Researchers are also working on over the air charging that would not require a charging base.

I hope someone wins soon because wireless charging is set to take off for all portable devices – wearables, music players and more.

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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!

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