Wireless charging moves forward -- rival groups team to adopt standards

The agreement pits Alliance for Wireless Power and Power Matters Alliance larger Qi developer Wireless Power Consortium

Two of the three major wireless power consortiums have agreed to establish interoperability standards for wireless power.

The partnership, announced Tuesday, pits the two consortiums -- the Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP) and the Power Matters Alliance (PMA) -- against the largest of the industry groups, which touts the Qi (pronounced "chee") wireless charging specification.

The A4WP and the PMA agreed to adopt each other's specifications for different types wireless of charging.

The A4WP-developed "Rezence" magnetic resonant wireless charging specification allows for a loosely coupled power transfer -- meaning that multiple devices can be placed on a charging pad can be moved around with little affect to the charge.

Rezence icon
The Rezence icon will mark devices that have been certified for the A4WP's wireless charging specification.

The PMA champions a magnetic inductive wireless charging technology that requires a more tightly coupled link between the charger and device. The PMA also developed an open network API for network services management.

The terms of the agreement call for PMA to adopt the Rezence technology as a magnetic resonance charging specification for both transmitters and receivers. In turn, the A4WP agreed to adopt the PMA's inductive specification. The A4WP also agreed to collaborate with PMA on its open network API.

Both groups have the backing of large mobile manufacturers and consumer product brands.

Ryan Sanderson, an analyst at IHS Technology, said the combined global market for wireless power receivers and transmitters is expected to rise to 1.7 billion unit shipments in 2023, up from about 25 million last year.

"This liaison agreement serves to accelerate an interoperable wireless charging ecosystem seen as critical to the broad adoption by consumers," he said in a statement.

The A4WP was founded by Qualcomm and Samsung and its 70-plus members include Broadcom, Delphi, Fairchild Semiconductor, Haier, Intel, LG Electronics, Qualcomm, Samsung Electronics, SanDisk, TDK and Texas Instruments.

Duracell Powermat, developer of the most widely used wireless charging technology today, is a member of the PMA. Starbucks coffee shops and McDonald's use Powermat technology to allow patrons at limited locations to charge smartphones and tablets on tabletops.

The third and largest industry consortium is the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC), which developed the Qi standard, which enables inductive or pad-style charging, as well as short-distance (1.5cm or less) magnetic resonance charging.

The Qi specification is supported by 200 companies , among them a veritable who's who of electronics, such as LG Electronics, Sony, Nokia and Verizon Wireless.

Today's agreement establishes "a clear path for industry consolidation by harmonizing technical standards that deliver interoperability and streamline next-generation wireless charging," the groups said in a statement.

"This announcement delivers a compelling message for the industry to commit and deliver wireless charging devices now. Between the organizations, A4WP and PMA membership consists of the key players necessary to drive industry consolidation and establish a commercially viable globally interoperable wireless charging ecosystem," A4WP president Kamil Grajski said in a statement.

A4WP's wireless power charging demonstration.

Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian, or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed . His email address is lmearian@computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

It’s time to break the ChatGPT habit
Shop Tech Products at Amazon