Intel is joining the Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP), one of three organizations supporting the implementation of induction charging for mobile devices. The company’s decision to join the board of the A4WP could lead to the technology (which is already supported by a number of smartphones and tablets) becoming a standard feature of ultrabook, notebook and potentially even desktop computers that use an Intel chip.
“Intel believes the A4WP specification, particularly the use of near-field magnetic resonance technology, can provide a compelling consumer experience and enable new usage models that make device charging almost automatic,” said Navin Shenoy, vice president, PC client group and general manager, mobile client platform division at Intel. “In joining A4WP, we look forward to working alongside other member companies and contributing 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.”
The A4WP was co-founded by Samsung and Qualcomm in 2012 and is currently one of three competing organizations that are all pushing wider adoption of the technology but to different standards.
The QI standard, created and supported by the Wireless Power Consortium, is the most well-established and widely supported wireless charging technology and is already in a host of mobile devices produced by everyone from Nokia to Samsung.
Meanwhile, the Power 2.0 standard, which has arrived later to the party and is being championed by the Power Matters Alliance, is being adopted by organizations such as Starbucks and the US Department of Energy and is focused as much on building wireless charging plates into furniture and fittings of hotels, cafes and airport lounges for consumer use as it is in tempting manufacturers to enable the technology in their devices.
Unlike A4WP, both the QI and Power 2.0 standards are focused on smaller, low-powered devices — i.e., Bluetooth headsets, smartphones and digital cameras — whereas A4WP’s standard is sufficiently flexible and scalable to support much hungrier devices such as computers and TVs. In fact the group’s ‘spatial platform’ can simultaneously support different devices, with different power needs, hence Intel’s decision to sign up to it, rather than the competition.
There is little doubt that wireless charging could be a true gamechanger. The benefits of being able to charge or even power a device simply by placing it down on a table or desk or even on a kitchen work counter are clear. However, the technology is already becoming fragmented with the emergence of three different technical standards.
Intel’s decision to choose A4WP could help to drive the technology and its adoption forward much more quickly and to expand its potential use cases. But as well as Intel, Samsung clearly sees the long term benefits of wireless charging — it is a member of all three wireless charging organizations.