Intel joins A4WP as wireless charging battle heats up

The battle among different consortia in the market for wireless charging is heating up, with chipset heavyweight Intel backing relative newcomer Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP). Intel will become a board member of A4WP, alongside Broadcom, Gill Industries, Integrated Device Technology (IDT), Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM), Samsung Electronics and Samsung Electro-Mechanics.

The A4WP was founded last year by Qualcomm and Samsung but has since grown to more than 40 companies. The alliance is competing against the more established Power Matters Alliance and Qi, which is run by the Wireless Power Consortium, for influence over wireless charging standards. The PMA counts around 80 members, including AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T), HTC, Huawei, Samsung and Starbucks, while the WPC counts 143 members, including Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ), Energizer, LG Electronics, Huawei, Motorola Mobility, Panasonic, Sony and Samsung.

The issue is picking up relevance as more high-end smartphones are coming to market with wireless charging as a standard feature. Qi, for instance, is the standard used in the HTC Droid DNA, Nokia (NYSE:NOK) Lumia 920 and Samsung Galaxy S4. 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.

Intel, which has dabbled in wireless charging before, said it went with A4WP because "use of near-field magnetic resonance technology can provide a compelling consumer experience and enable new usage models that make device charging almost automatic." Intel said it will help contribute to standards "that help fuel an ecosystem of innovative solutions capable of simultaneously charging a range of devices, from low-power accessories to smartphones, tablets and Ultrabooks."

As The Verge explains, magnetic resonant charging is different from the inductive charging model backed by the WPC and PMA because the device and charger are less tightly coupled, which allows users to charge multiple devices simultaneously and across short distances.

AT&T in March said it is seeking a commitment from its handset partners to support the PMA standard. "In an effort to move towards making this a reality for consumers worldwide and in direct support for the public ecosystem rollout led by Powermat, we have asked our device suppliers to provide integrated wireless charging solutions by 2014," AT&T told CNET at the time.

Although Samsung, the world's largest maker of smartphones by volume, is a member of all three organizations, it launched the A4WP with Qualcomm because of what it considers to be the technology benefits of the different standard.

For more:
- see this release
- see this The Verge article
- see this CNET article
- see this Computerworld article

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