Wireless charging stations aren't currently very bright, but they're about to learn some new tricks. The Alliance for Wireless Power and the Bluetooth SIG are collaborating on an updated A4WP specification that uses Bluetooth Smart to manage wireless charging sessions. Future Bluetooth-equipped stations should optimize power delivery, prioritize charging for multiple devices and launch apps; you could order a meal by setting your phone down at a restaurant table, for instance. Just when we'll see these smart stations isn't certain, though. When the first A4WP-ready products aren't likely to reach the market until next year, it could be a long time before wireless chargers become truly multi-talented.
Source: Bluetooth SIG
The Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP), a consortium working to establish a new wireless charging standard, hasn't been around for terribly long -- Samsung and Qualcomm joined forces to create the organization just over a year ago -- but it's planning to make waves as quickly as possible. One of the most effective ways to do exactly that, then, would be to persuade large players in the mobile industry to join along, and Intel certainly meets that qualification. The company announced this afternoon that it has officially joined the A4WP's Board of Directors. This move doesn't guarantee that we'll be soon seeing Intel-powered devices with built-in wireless charging capabilities, but it's at least a solid indication that the folks in Santa Clara are mindful of (and intrigued by) the potential that near-field magnetic resonance tech holds.
The Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP), a group created through the joint efforts of Qualcomm and Samsung, is getting ready to tackle the growing wireless charging market by introducing its very own standard to compete against the likes of the WPC. This morning the consortium, which claims TI, Powermat and Deutsche Telekom (among several others) as members, not only went into greater detail on its plans for the future but also brought along some prototype pads and embedded furniture to show us.
The A4WP's solution is a "non-radiative magnetic resonance-based wireless power transfer ecosystem" -- in short, it allows your phone, tablet or other A4WP-certified gadget (such as light bulbs, as demonstrated above) to charge from a small distance. What does this mean to you, dear consumer? In short, your device doesn't have to be directly touching the pad in order to receive a charge; instead, you could place your phone on top of a notebook or other obstruction (heck, you could even stack your phone on top of another phone or tablet) and still power up your handset. lt will also allow you to place more than one device on the same pad -- and even more than one device type, so tablets and phones can charge together in harmony despite the fact that they both have different power requirements -- and move them around anywhere on the pad without interrupting the charge. These are key differentiators that make A4WP's option a very tempting one for the general user.
It's not quite a "Dear John" letter, but we're sure the Wireless Power Consortium is heartbroken all the same. One of its key members, TI, has just signed up for the Alliance for Wireless Power to build cable-free charging on what's effectively a competing standard. The chip designer doesn't view the move as abandoning a long-time partner, though -- it remains part of the WPC and plans to produce Qi-based wireless power chipsets alongside future A4WP components. Without any related chips to announce, there's a long wait left before we know how well TI can juggle the two charging formats without appearing to play favorites. We'd recommend that the WPC not grow too attached in the meantime.
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