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Is 2015 Finally the Year Where Wireless Power Goes Mainstream?

It has been an incredibly exciting start to 2015 with several major announcements in wireless power along with several noticeable absences…

Just last week we saw the first major smartphone manufacturer (major by market share) embed wireless charging into their flagship device. Samsung has decided to build in the WPC’s Qi technology into their flagship Galaxy S6 and S6 edge device. Qi wireless charging will be supported out of the box by Samsung for the first time. These new smartphones will also support PMA. This is sometimes called “dual-mode.” As a WPC steering group member this is great news. You may be surprised to hear me say that, but it really is.

What it means is that companies making a significant investment to deploy infrastructure in coffee shops, cars, airports, home furniture and so on, can make those investments with confidence. There is no longer any fear or uncertainty regarding which standard major smartphones will adopt.

These dual-mode phones are and will continue to drive demand for Qi transmitters. It’s not hard to see why. Qi caters to the widest range of applications and offers a clear path forward to resonance whilst guaranteeing full backwards compatibility. Brands like IKEA, AirCharge, McDonalds, Chargespot, Marriott, Toyota to name few are all choosing Qi transmitters. That’s right – Qi only transmitters. In fact, there are over 682 Qi certified devices today.

The WPC called out a few key stats in its recent Press release:

  • 15 cars have Qi chargers built in, or available as a factory installed option. Examples include the new 2016 Toyota Camry and the 2015 Jeep Cherokee.
  • 80% of car manufacturers by volume will release cars with support for Qi.
  • Google wireless charging transmitters on Amazon – almost every option you see is Qi and there are so many great options to choose from. Some of my favourites are the Tylt, Aircharge and Nokia ranges.

With the Samsung Galaxy S6 joining the Qi club, today almost every single smartphone manufacturer (except Apple, Levono and Xiaomi) has a flagship device with Qi wireless charging built in. This includes LG, HTC, Google Nexus, Microsoft and Motorola.

Aircharge’s recently launched app is a great way to find Qi charging spots around the world. It shows that there are over 3,000 locations in a wide variety of locations supporting Qi and this is only the beginning. Businesses are paying to install Qi. To put that in context, the PMA has 200 noted locations –all within Starbucks locations. The noticeable absence of the A4WP camp is also interesting. A4WP has no products in the market to date.

Why then did PMA select A4WP as its resonance path forward given how similar WPC and PMA technology are? As an engineer and technologist, it’s hard to see how PMA and A4WP technologies can result in a single truly interoperable standard. One can always co-house systems, but that’s not a cost effective solution – nor is it likely to fit in a modern day smartphone.

Additionally, you may find it interesting that most of the press seems to have misinterpreted the merging of two standards organisations as the merging of two standards – which it is not.

When we hosted the Wireless Power Consortium in Auckland in January, the Resonant Qi Specification was made available to its 200+ member companies. We were pleased to host the meeting for the second year and contributed a significant amount of our technology, intellectual property and expertise to deliver a highly efficient, backwards-compatible, resonant wireless charging system.

We now we have the world’s first resonant system compatible with the most widely deployed wireless power standard. That’s extremely exciting as it provides companies like Samsung a clear path to Resonant Qi with full backwards compatibility to Inductive Qi.

The advancement includes safety features such as foreign object detection, even with multi-device systems, as well as an industry leading 70%+ total system efficiency for a fast and effective charge.

PowerbyProxi’s new evaluation kit is a single design which supports both Resonant Qi and Inductive Qi modes, providing a clear way forward for the growing number of OEMs who are integrating the WPC’s Qi standard into their smartphones and other devices.

PowerbyProxi's evaluation kit

PowerbyProxi’s evaluation kit

2015 is already off to a fast start and is going to be an incredibly exciting year for wireless power. One that we will look back on as a tipping point in the industry.

4 comments on “Is 2015 Finally the Year Where Wireless Power Goes Mainstream?

  1. etnapowers
    March 17, 2015

    “Samsung has decided to build in the WPC's Qi technology into their flagship Galaxy S6 and S6 edge device. Qi wireless charging will be supported out of the box by Samsung for the first time.”

    I think this is a great decision by the Samsung Company. It will help to increase the autonomy of the battery. That's great.

     

     

  2. Carrytrader
    March 19, 2015

    I love aircharge app. Just wish there were more spots around. Wireless power will be a critical tool in the enabler of 'internet of things'. Couple this using solar power to minimise carbon footprint means it will be exciting few years to come! 

  3. etnapowers
    March 19, 2015

    @Carrytrader: I couldn't agree more with you, the wireless power is an high-potential addition for the IOT structures. I think it will be a successful project.

  4. Victor Lorenzo
    March 20, 2015

    I've been paying some attention to wireless charging technologies for a number of years. It was the solution that would partly mitigate some inconvinients in one product I designed for a customer some years ago, but this technology was not mature at that time. And I should confess that I am not so excited about it.

    I find two positive things on it, no need for a galvanic connection and the eventual possibility of charging more than one device at the same time.

    I see some cons with it too: power transmitter and receiver should be too close, in most demostration hardware I've seen 5mm starts to be too far, expecially in terms of efficiency. Second is cost, it adds an extra cost that in some cases becomes 30-to-65% of total product cost (mass production, 10k pieces). It also adds hardware and housing design complexity (need to reserve space for relatively large coils and extra shielding).

    One more thing, this time not from a designer's but from a personal perspective. We already have a very high electromagnetic spectrum polution and this technology adds even more.

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