Two of the three major standards associations behind wireless charging technology have formally merged, with the leader of one of them calling for the third group to join with them into a single entity. The Wireless Power Consortium is still a separate group and continues to support the Qi wireless charging standard.
The Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP) and Power Matters Alliance (PMA) merged their two organizations after announcing plans to do so in January. The new group will be renamed later this year, but said it has "retained key leaders and contributors within all working groups including technical, testing and certification, regulatory and marketing."
Since January the A4WP and PMA have been preparing for the integration, which they said is now underway and will follow with a coordinated product roadmap. "We'd like to see this [organization] really be the [organization] that takes it global and the biggest companies in the world have bet on it," PMA President Ron Resnick told ReadWrite. "We plan to really be aggressive about building out and seeing infrastructures go everywhere for our wireless charging. So we have a lot of work ahead of us, but that's our plan."
The A4WP was founded in 2012 to push the Rezence-branded technology for magnetic resonance wireless charging, and it counts Broadcom, Intel, Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM), Samsung and others as members. That technology allows devices placed within an inductor ring to be charged without having to perfectly line up with the coil, and lets users charge devices a foot or so away from a charging coil.
The PMA was founded in 2012 to push its inductive charging technology, and its backers include AT&T Mobility (NYSE: T), Duracell, Powermat Technologies and Starbucks, which has added PMA-capable chargers into some of its coffee stores. The PMA's technology requires users to place devices specifically on a charging surface like table or pad on an inductor ring. The PMA's technology is not compatible though with the Qi standard.
"It just seemed like it was a natural evolution path to combine the two into one industry org that really does one thing: the goal is to deliver a really good experience for users regardless of what the use case is and having the different technologies work collaboratively together under one roof made a lot of sense," said Resnick. "So both boards of directors agreed to that, and so we're real happy that we've now signed the merger agreement, and we will be one industry organization."
Meanwhile, the separate WPC, which was set up in late 2008, continues to push its own Qi-branded wireless charging technology, which the group said combines elements of both inductive and resonance technology.
Qi has dozens of device makers as supporters and many OEMs, including Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics, HTC, Sony, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT), build the technology into their phones. The Samsung Galaxy S6 supports charging standards from both the PMA and Qi.
For now, it appears the WPC is standing on its own. John Perzow, vice president of market development for the WPC, said in a statement to FierceWireless that the PMA offers close-coupled inductive technology and AA4WP has resonance and "so there is synergy and an attempt to catch up with WPC and recognize the need for both technologies. As you know, the Qi standard addresses both inductive and resonant approaches, which has been WPC's position from the start."
"The two groups are filling gaps with technology the other organization didn't have," Perzow continued. "The fact is the demand for wireless power is real, here and now. There is a foot race to meet this demand. Qi is already there with more than 200 member companies that have already delivered 750+ Qi-certified products, including 80+ Qi-enabled smartphones and tablets that are on the market today. The one core promise that Qi delivers on for consumers and industry is this: When you buy Qi, it just works and it will work even as features and advances evolve."
Resnick said that the PMA/A4WP combination will give customers the best of both worlds. "You can have a phone that has our resonant technology and inductive and it's going to work," he said. "We think that has the better story."
However, Resnick also told ReadWrite that he wants there to be unity in the wireless charging market. "I'd love to see a unification of the whole ecosystem," he said. "I would absolutely encourage the WPC to approach us and figure out how we can get their inductive technology.… We'd be happy to do it."
Special Report: Starbucks, IKEA, Samsung: Is 2015 the year of wireless charging technology?
Wireless charging finally sees its star rise to the top
McDonald's UK inks deal with Aircharge to deploy 600 Qi wireless charging hotspots
Alliance for Wireless Power merges with Power Matters Alliance to push wireless charging standard
Qi wireless charging standard adds ability to charge devices at short distances
Alliance for Wireless Power, Power Matters Alliance team for wireless charging