Wireless charging standard to be finalised within six months


The first specification for wireless charging is expected to be completed within six months, according to the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC).

The WPC, which has 27 members including Samsung, Philips, Texas Instruments, HP, Nokia and RIM, aims to find a single solution from the many wireless charging solutions being developed. And it says a finished standard is already conceptually in place, and is well on its way to gaining universal acceptance.

Speaking at last week's CES electronics show in Las Vegas, Philips executive Menno Treffers a member of the consortium is reported by Reuters as saying "I will eat my hat" if a standard is not completed in six months.

The proposed standard uses the magnetic induction system, which sees power transmitted from a charging mat to a special short-range magnetic induction plate that replaces the traditional battery cover on the back of the device you wish to charge. Simply making contact with the mat is enough to commence charging.

The standard will be ratified to five watts of power, with a further standard then being worked on for more power-hungry devices such as laptops. Compliant devices will carry the WPC's Qi logo.

"We want to start on that as soon as possible, but for now we don't want to dilute our engineering efforts," Treffers said.

Settling on a single standard is seen as key for phone makers and device manufacturers to move forward with product development and start working on evolutionary technology.

Magnetic induction-based charging systems that would comply with the standard already exist, such as Palm's Touchstone, which can wirelessly charge the Pre and Pixi smartphones.

A variety of other solutions were also shown off at CES last week, including a variation on the theme from electronics firm RCA called Airnergy, which claims to soak up energy from existing wireless access points and convert it to a usable charge which can power devices.

However, with the likes of major wireless charging player Powermat and several leading gadget makers (including Apple) not members of the WPC and running proprietary systems, there are still significant stumbling blocks still to be negotiated.

Treffers warned that gaining consensus and completing the standard was essential for wireless charging to become a mainstream technology.

"If we get the standard done, that will give [wireless power] the most market appeal," he said. "Otherwise it will be something that's nice for geeks and users with specialised needs."