Two of the three major standards associations pushing technologies for wireless charging have agreed to merge. The move could help pave the way for a smoother rollout of the technology to users--but complications remain in the field of wireless charging.
The Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP) and Power Matters Alliance (PMA) said they will merge to "establish an organization that will accelerate the availability and deployment of wireless charging technology on a global scale." The groups said they expect the merger to be complete by the middle of this year; they haven't agreed on a new name for the merged organization.
The A4WP was founded in 2012 to push the Rezence-branded technology for magnetic resonance wireless charging, and it counts Broadcom, Intel, Qualcomm, Samsung and others as members. The PMA was founded in 2012 to push its inductive charging technology, and its backers include AT&T, Duracell, Powermat Technologies and Starbucks, which has added PMA-capable chargers into some of its coffee stores.
The groups said they would now jointly push wireless charging due to the merger, but that both technologies would continue to be available so that members could use whichever made the most sense.
The merger comes as little surprise. In February 2014, the two groups said they would work together, though they continued to push their respective technologies.
Although the A4WP and the PMA are joining forces, the separate Wireless Power Consortium continues to push its own Qi-branded wireless charging technology, which the group said combines elements of both inductive and resonance technology. Supporters include Philips and Microsoft, and already a wide range of Windows Phones and also some Android phones support the technology.
John Perzow, a vice president of development at the Wireless Power Consortium, told the Wall Street Journal that the merger between the A4WP and the PMA was "inevitable." Nonetheless, he also said the Wireless Power Consortium was "willing and able" to have discussions about combining its efforts with the newly merged associations.
Despite the merger of the A4WP and the PMA, the wireless charging scene remains notably fractured. Startups ranging from Mojo Mobility to Ossia to Energous all offer wireless charging technology in some form. And it remains unclear whether smartphone heavyweights like Apple will support existing wireless charging technologies or introduce their own flavor.
IHS last year predicted the global market for wireless power receivers and transmitters would rise to 1.7 billion units in 2023, up from about 25 million in 2013. Proponents of wireless charging argue it is more efficient and easier to use than wired chargers.
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