Two of the three major wireless charging groups have signed an agreement that will see their standards’ technologies coexist on future devices. This could lead to wireless power becoming more prevalent in tablets and phones.
As part of the agreement, the Power Matters Alliance (PMA) will adopt the forward-looking ‘Rezence’ specification of the Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP) for magnetic resonance charging, while the A4WP will in turn adopt the PMA’s inductive specification for its form of wireless charging.
Rather than being Nicoli Tesla’s dream of broadcast power, these rival industry associations have created technologies to send power to devices that have been placed on special charging mats. This saves users from having to plug cables in.
Baby Steps Toward Interoperability
The newly-announced deal was voted for unanimously by the boards of both the A4WP — which counts Intel, Samsung, Qualcomm, Broadcom, and others amongst its members — and the PMA — which includes Starbucks (which uses the PMA’s standard in wireless charging stations at its cafes), Powermat Technologies, and Procter & Gamble.
In practice, this means that tablet and smartphone manufacturers will only need one approval to implement the PMA or A4WP’s wireless charging standards in their devices, rather than two. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the competing technologies will be interchangeable going forward, but they will be allowed to exist side-by-side on a given device.
The third major wireless charging group in this whole tango is the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC), the main backer of the Qi standard. It was not included in this particular deal, but has seen some success on its own in devices from LG, Nokia, and other OEMs.
Unless the WPC joins in on the peace, it appears that there will still be considerable fragmentation across the wireless charging industry, hindering the already-hindered tech even more. Nevertheless, this deal looks to be a sign of progress, one that could bring closer the day where any tablet can power up on any wireless charger without worry.
A Knight in Shining Armor?
Last year, the IEEE Wireless Power and Charging Systems Working Group (WPCS-WG) was created with the goal of creating a standard for wireless charging. The plan is to develop the IEEE P2100.1 Standard Specifications for Wireless Power and Charging Systems, the first in a series of anticipated standards.
This won’t be yet another rival system, but will instead be a venue for the companies already making wireless power systems to iron out a compromise standard.
Source: A4WP and PMA (via PRNewswire)