Believe it or not, companies are not waiting for Apple to dictate the direction of the wireless charging market, according to the AirFuel Alliance, which just welcomed 10 new members to its ranks.
Huawei, Motorola Solutions and Bose Corporation are just a few of the new members to join within the past few months. Other new members include GaN Systems, Gengee, Handeholder Products, Metaboards, Redpine Signals, Shenzhen Hongizsheng Technology Co. and Zonecharge Wireless Power Technology Co. Consumer electronics, semiconductor, design and manufacturing and automotive industries are all represented as members in the alliance.
Some spectators interpreted Apple’s recent decision to join the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC) as a good indication the company will add the Qi style of wireless charging to the iPhone 8. Qi (pronounced Chee) is an inductive wireless charging technology where the coils need to be tightly aligned to make the connection while charging.
But Ron Resnick, president of the AirFuel Alliance, notes that Apple doesn’t announce what’s going to be in its products until they hit the market, “so the fact that they joined an industry org doesn’t tell us what wireless charging technology they’ll ultimately decide on.”
That said, he hopes Apple is considering AirFuel resonant technology, saying it’s more advanced than Qi technology in that it delivers spatial freedom, allowing consumers to charge their device during use. For public infrastructure, it's far less expensive to deploy AirFuel resonance than Qi because there’s no need to drill through table tops and the coverage on the surface area is far greater, he said.
Unlike a lot of organizations that rally around a specific technology, the AirFuel Alliance says it’s a use-case driven organization and it lets the market—consumers and businesses—drive its decisions versus any one technology or solution.
“We don’t bet on one technology to satisfy the myriad number of use cases for wireless power,” Resnick explained via email for FierceWirelessTech. “We don’t believe one size fits all and that is why we currently support inductive, resonant, and RF.”
“Practically speaking, you wirelessly charge a phone differently than a PC, and a PC differently than a hearing aid. Sometimes it's OK to have to align a device directly over the charging source and other times you need more freedom—you need the ability to charge at a distance, or charge multiple devices at once or over a wider surface area. This is something our members are keenly aware of and working to accommodate,” he said.
AirFuel members announced several new products based on AirFuel inductive and resonant specifications before and during Mobile World Congress 2017, including:
- LG G6 – LG introduced its new G-Series smartphone, the LG G6. The new smartphone includes support for AirFuel's (previously PMA) inductive wireless charging standard, allowing consumers who buy the new LG G6 to charge their phones wirelessly at home and at public venues like Starbucks.
- Gill Electronics, Kimball Office & OFS Brands – Gill Electronics is powering two new infrastructure solutions for the office based on the AirFuel resonant specification. Kimball Office is using Gill’s resonant transmitter to create a wireless power-charging solution called “Jolt” that seamlessly integrates into various work surfaces – from desks to cabinets to tables. OFS Brands, a furniture and logistics solutions company, is using Gill’s resonant transmitter to power TesLink, another integrated wireless power solution.
- Chargifi Smart IoT Platform – Chargifi announced an Internet of Things (IoT) platform, based upon the AirFuel specification, that turns wireless power into a service, with the aim of adding value for manufacturers, managed service providers, venues and users alike. The platform reports vitals and usage metrics on charging hotspots in real-time, and its self-healing technology can fix transmitters remotely.
The Alliance for Wireless Power and the Power Matters Alliance merged in 2015, forming what’s now the AirFuel Alliance. Members include Starbucks, Qualcomm, Samsung, HTC, Kyocera and others.