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Qualcomm powers up wireless charging initiative

Posted: 25 Jun 2013 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:wireless charging? A4WP? Bluetooth?

Qualcomm has plunged into the wireless charging market through a licensing deal with Gill Electronics. The fabless communication chip company expects to see by 2014 its charging technology in cars and office furniture, using their implementation of the specification from the Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP).

The competing Wireless Power Consortium (WPC) was the first to market and claims as many as 8.5 million products have shipped using its Qi technology, some based on chips announced last fall by Texas Instruments. Intel demonstrated its own approach to wireless charging which it said would hit the market later this year.

The A4WP spec adopted by Qualcomm and Gill uses a 6.78MHz frequency. It avoids the heat generated by the competing WPC technique running several hundredkHz, said Brad Miller, director of advanced development at Gill. It also uses Bluetooth already embedded in mobile products to create a control channel between the charger and mobile devices.

In addition, the A4WP spec uses smaller antennas than the inductive coils needed for WPC. That allows for greater miniaturisation and less potential interference with other wireless signals such as near-field communications, he said.

"I expect we will have products in the market by the end of this year, with mass market adoption taking place in 2014 when other A4WP members start delivering consumer devices with the technology already embedded into the devices," Miller said in an email exchange.

Those products will include aftermarket accessories to add to car storage bins and armrests. Gill also is pursuing design wins in office furniture.

"We have products that can be embedded up inside work surfaces or simply attached to the bottom of any work surface up to 30mm thick and transmit power through the entire work surface while still maintaining the spatial freedom and flexibility to provide different levels of power to different devices at the same time," he said.

Qualcomm's WiPower implementation of A4WP lets users charge multiple devices on a single charging surface at the same time, even if they have different power requirements. It delivers up to 22W and enables charging devices without physical contact to charge area, said a Qualcomm spokesman.

By contrast WPC chips released by TI in November enabled a 70 x 20 mm charging area.

- Rick Merritt
??EE Times

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