[MWC] New Global Standard for Wireless Charging of Electronic Equipment

By March 17, 2014

The Wireless Power Consortium has over 180 members from various related sectors, who are on a mission to establish Qi as the global standard for wireless charging of electronic devices and appliances.

Many low-power (up to 5 watts) devices such as smartphones and other mobile equipment are already able to charge up wirelessly. However it is high time that this facility was extended to a much wider range of electronic items, especially larger everyday appliances, argues the  Wireless Power Consortium (WPC), whose members include industry leaders in mobile phones, consumer electronics, batteries, semiconductors, components, wireless power technology and infrastructure providers such as wireless operators and automotive parts companies. Demonstrating the latest innovations in wireless power charging – aka ‘induction charging’ – at the Mobile World Congress 2014 (MWC) and the MobileFocus Global event that preceded it, in Barcelona in late February, WPC members explained that they want to “change the way we think of batteries” and are pushing for the adoption of their ‘Qi’ specification as the global standard for wireless charging of electronic products.

Changing the approach to power charging

Medium- and high-power wireless charging applications are already being developed in many fields. For example, one of the WPC members at the MWC event, New Zealand startup Power by Proxi, is developing more advanced solutions, including its ‘spatial charging field’ technology. The home appliances sector is getting interested in wireless charging, as a WPC paper published last year entitled Cordless kitchen appliances: A powerful new kitchen concept, indicates. The paper shows how this type of technology could also be applied to more power-hungry equipment such induction cooktops and kettles. The technology would also be more environmentally-friendly, avoiding the user having to obtain a new charger for every new piece of equipment and reducing the need to collect/recycle old chargers and batteries.

‘Life force’

In its paper, the Wireless Power Consortium strongly argues the need for standard specifications that will define the interface for wireless devices. With this in mind, the WPC established in March 2013 a working group focusing mainly on home appliances. The underlying standard specification agreed on by WPC members has been dubbed Qi – a word used in traditional Chinese philosophy to refer to the ‘life force’, circulating energy thought to be inherent in all things. Products using this standard carry the Qi logo. The concept of induction charging is in fact not new, the principle having been originally demonstrated by the electrical engineer and inventor Nikola Tesla at the turn of the 20th century. Products using the Qi standard are already available in the United States, Asia Pacific and Europe, currently numbering around 455.

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