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Qualcomm joins PMA but continues to push for single wireless charging standard

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Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) is now a member of three competing bodies that are pushing wireless charging solutions, and hopes that by having a foot in the three camps it can harmonize the different standards into a single one.

On Tuesday, Qualcomm joined the Power Matters Alliance (PMA), becoming its 100th member. The chip giant is expected to assume a senior leadership role within the PMA, and will help drive the PMA's specification for the next generation of wireless charging.

The decision comes about two weeks after Qualcomm pledged its support for the Qi wireless charging standard, which is run by the 175-member Wireless Power Consortium (WPC). Qualcomm, along with Samsung Electronics, also last year founded the Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP), which now has more than 60 members.

"Qualcomm, a founding member of the Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP), has joined the WPC and PMA. Qualcomm remains a board member and driver of the A4WP," the company said in a statement to GigOM. "Qualcomm remains committed to the industries transition to a resonant based wireless power technology. By joining these organizations, Qualcomm aims to provide an opportunity to standardize around a single global implementation if all parties can agree on the way forward. The company believes that A4WP represents the most mature and best implementation of resonant charging. We are bringing this time to market advantage to the PMA and WPC for their consideration."

Qualcomm made similar points in a statement to AllThingsD. "By joining, Qualcomm can bring its expertise in resonant wireless power to bear and to look toward harmonization across wireless power standards," the company said. "It is Qualcomm's belief that the other entities can leverage the work in resonant wireless charging that has been completed by the Alliance for Wireless Power."

The issue is picking up relevance as more high-end smartphones are coming to market with wireless charging as a standard feature. Although wireless charging promises to help relieve battery life issues on smartphones and tablets by placing charging mats and pads in locations such as airports and cafes, the issue of multiple standards is bedeviling the industry, which is what Qualcomm is hoping to solve.

The A4WP supports magnetic resonant charging, which is different from the inductive charging model backed by the WPC and PMA because the device and charger are less tightly coupled. This allows users to charge multiple devices simultaneously and across short distances. As The Verge explains, this means users don't "need to place a device in a particular spot and orientation on a precisely sized charging pad."

The PMA, which is spearheaded by Powermat Technologies, AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T)  Procter & Gamble and Starbucks, said it will work with Qualcomm to develop specification that will enable PMA devices to receive power both through low-frequency induction and via high-frequency resonance, for a "full spectrum" solution. 

"This is the beginning of the healing process," PMA board member Daniel Schreiber told The Verge.

For more:
- see this The Verge article
- see this GigaOM article
- see this AllThingsD article

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