As Korean automaker Ssangyong joins up alongsideToyota, as early subscriber to the Wireless Power Consortium’s Qi players, the indication of the global momentum behind wireless power technology is soured by two conflicting standard approaches and the jury is out over the dual wireless charging systems of the earlier careful positioned capacitance route, and the later possibly more attractive inductive approach.
Hop onto the web to search for 'wireless charging' and Powermat, Home & Office & Portable is shelling out a fortune to come atop Google's ads. There are now, according to the WP Consortium some 36 different Qi-integrated or Qi-ready devices and many, like Samsung Galaxy S III, that don’t support the technology, but can offer customers a separately purchased battery back plate, embedded with the Qi receiver coils.
The Qi standard has been completed since 2010. WPC is made up of major industry players, including telcos, device manufacturers, and vendors. There are already devices enabled for wireless charging from the likes of Samsung, Nokia, LG, and HTC, and other neat approaches as dongle-type plug-ins that can convert phones to use inductive wireless power.
Ovum points out that "Efficiency remains a concern and the risk of interference is bound to delay regulatory approval. Japanese authorities are demanding to test the wireless charging approaches for interference with over 50 different pacemakers.
With more than 130 WPC member companies with Qi technology in 120 products, including 34 phones, notably Nokia’s Lumia 920 flagship smartphone, Qi leads with magnetic induction that requires precise positioning of a device on a plate to charge it.
But other phone groups, Qualcomm, Samsung, and members of AWP favour magnetic resonance which allows several devices to be charged at once and at distances of up to a metre from the power source.
Duracell has its Power Matters Alliance. There is a German carmaker consortium and other companies aligned with the Consumer Electronics Association. Apple, of course, has early emerged with its own new standard charger port and will follow its own wireless power patents.
But there does need to be a cohesive standard for wireless charging to become truly universal. Research consultant IMS say wireless power could benefit potentially 5bn devices a year, but is only predicting growth from just 5m devices in 2012 to about 100m by 2015.
Industry take-off must wait until a single standard wins out.