Two wireless charging working groups seek merger to end technology battle

An alliance between two rival wireless charging working groups promises to advance the global market for compatible equipment by ending a technology war between the organisations.

The Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP) and Power Matters Alliance (PMA) used the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to announce they have signed a letter of intent to merge, a move the pair said will help accelerate availability and deployment of wireless charging kit globally. The groups predict the merger will be completed by mid-2015.

In a joint statement issued late Monday, A4WP and PMA said the combined organisation would benefit the wireless charging industry by enabling it to quickly generate the economies of scale necessary to bring the cost of equipment down, and so boost sales. The collaboration will benefit consumers, mobile network operators, consumer facing commercial and retail brands, and the consumer electronics industry, the two groups said.

"The 'standards war' narrative presents a false choice," said A4WP board chair and president Kamil Grajski, adding: "Consider that the typical mass-market smartphone contains a multiplicity of radio technologies (Bluetooth, NFC, WiFi, 3G, LTE) each built around a vibrant ecosystem, whereas other devices are single-mode (Bluetooth headset). The A4WP PMA merger is in the same spirit: enable the market to apply technologies to their best use cases."

PMA president Ron Resnick said the combination of the two standards organisations will give industry decision-makers confidence in wireless charging technologies. "The key to volume economics is to combine best-in-class wireless power transfer technology with innovative cloud-based network services," he noted.

A4WP was formed in 2012 and counts companies including Qualcomm, Samsung Electronics, Intel and Broadcom among its members. The companies have focused on building an ecosystem based on the Rezence wireless charging standard, which the Wall Street Journal reported utilises magnetic resonance technology.

The PMA was founded in the same year and has companies including Duracell, Starbucks, Powermat Technologies and AT&T on its books. The group is developing inductive charging technology, the Journal reported, and has installed wireless charging spots in coffee shops, airports, stadiums, restaurants and gyms.

While the two organisations talk up the end of the technology war, the alliance may not end fragmentation in the wireless charging market as it does not include the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC)--a third standards group that counts Nokia among its members, the BBC reported.

The WPC said its technology is already used in 600 products, including 70 smartphones, the BBC added.

For more:
- see this joint A4WP and PMA announcement
- view this Wall Street Journal article
- read this BBC report

Related Articles:
Marriott rolls out wireless charging stations with Qi technology
Qi wireless charging standard adds ability to charge devices at short distances
Alliance for Wireless Power, Power Matters Alliance team for wireless charging
Intel's Skylake platform will ditch cables thanks to WiGig, Rezence
Alliance for Wireless Power launches 'Rezence' brand for wireless charging