Two of the three leading groups promoting wireless charging standards have agreed to work together, potentially hastening consolidation in the market and the move toward a single, unifying standard.
The Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP) and the Power Matters Alliance agreed that the PMA will adopt the A4WP "Rezence" specification as the PMA's magnetic resonance charging specification. A4WP, in turn, agreed to adopt the PMA inductive specification as a supported option "for multi-mode inductive, magnetic resonance implementations." The A4WP also said it will collaborate with PMA on their open network API for network services management.
"We believe that companies that have been evaluating and hesitating to integrate wireless charging into their consumer electronics products will now have a reason to go forward," Kamil Grajski, president of the A4WP and an executive with Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM), told CNET.
However, there are still obstacles to overcome. Even though the two groups are collaborating, the two standards from the A4WP and PMA do not work with each other. Further, the deal does not include the Qi wireless charging standard, which is backed by the 175-member Wireless Power Consortium (WPC).
John Perzow, vice president of market development at WPC, said in a statement that "what PMA and A4WP announced is not one merged group. They both are filling gaps with technology the other didn't have. And they both will continue to operate separately as far as we know. So in this case, one plus one doesn't equal a better one. One plus one equals a more complicated two."
Perzow said this is about "two groups who realized they could not do something particularly well. In the case of PMA, it could not do resonance in a way that worked well with its inductive chargers. PMA's data layer was likely attractive to A4WP. Qi is the only standard that has all of these capabilities, and all products work with each other, today in the future."
"That's not the case with A4WP optionally using PMA technology and vice versa. This type of sharing does not make things better for the consumer and likely makes it far worse because it creates more compatibility issues," he added. "The one core promise Qi makes to consumers and industry is this: When you buy Qi, you know it works today, tomorrow, and farther in the future, with whatever features and advances evolve."
Perzow said WPC is talking to both groups. "The real end-goal is one wireless charging solution where all products are compatible with other products today, tomorrow, and farther out in the future."
The A4WP is backed by Qualcomm and Samsung Electronics and now boasts more than 60 members. The A4WP recently launch a certification program for wirelessly charging devices and started using the brand name "Rezence" for consumer-facing products.
The A4WP supports magnetic resonant charging, which is different from the inductive charging Qi model backed by the WPC and the Power 2.0 standard from the PMA because the device and charger are less tightly coupled. This allows users to charge multiple devices simultaneously and across short distances. This also means users don't need to place a device in a particular spot and orientation on a specific charging pad.
In October Qualcomm became a member of all three wireless charging bodies in the hope that by having a foot in the three camps it can harmonize the different standards into a single one.
"The combined global market for wireless power receivers and transmitters is expected to rise to 1.7 billion unit shipments in 2023, up from about 25 million in 2013," IHS Technology analyst Ryan Sanderson said in a statement. "This liaison agreement serves to accelerate an interoperable wireless charging ecosystem seen as critical to the broad adoption by consumers."
- see this release
- see this CNET article
- see this Engadget article
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