New wireless charging standard to come in 6 months

qi The Wireless Power Consortium aims to create a wireless charging standard by mid-year, allowing interoperability between the various wireless charging solution OEMs.

Menno Treffers, a Philips executive who is chairman of the consortium said at a group of vendors at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Friday ”If it’s not ready by then, I will eat my hat,"

The consortium has 27 members including Nokia, Research In Motion, Philips, Sanyo, Samsung Electronics, Energizer and Hewlett-Packard, as well as component and wireless-power technology companies such as Texas Instruments and Fulton Innovation.

The standard is for magnetic induction, a contactless technology, and can deliver up to 5 watt. This is enough for small electronics such as smartphones, Bluetooth headsets and MP3 players. A further standard will later be developed for laptops. The coils are small enough to fit in a Bluetooth headset, and devices charge as fast as if connected directly, but with about 70% efficiency.

Compatible products will carry the "Qi" logo, pictured above.

Until it arrives, some vendors won’t release any further products. "We’re done for now until the standard is complete," said Serge Traylor, brand manager for charging and rechargeable systems with Energizer. When the standard is done, Energizer will release a mat for charging as many as two devices, for about $100, and charging sleeves for smartphones, for $30 to $40, he said.

Powermat, who already have a full range on the market, and Apple are however not on board, which may create some difficulty and confusion in the market.

"If we get the standard done, that will give [wireless power] the most market appeal," said Treffers. "Otherwise it will be something that’s nice for geeks and users with specialized needs."

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