You’re on an important call with your agency’s administrator and suddenly your phone beeps and you get that dreaded “Low Battery!” message. Or you’re a warfighter with multiple items all requiring recharging. To be sure, keeping your mobile devices powered up can be a challenge and a nuisance.
Now two power players in the consumer electronics industry are leading the charge to change that.
Samsung and Qualcomm Inc., have teamed up to form the Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP), an organization intended to promote a standardized wireless charging technology that will make it easier for users to keep their various electronic devices-everything from mobile phones and Bluetooth headsets to tablet PCs and digital cameras-powered up simply by placing a device near a charging unit.
If it took a year (to get to a published specification) I would be disappointed. We can’t afford for it to take too long.”
The ultimate goal is to establish a worldwide wireless power technology “ecosystem” for a broad base of consumer electronics devices, officials said. Such a vision will require the creation of a single standard or specification that supports an array of devices and power requirements.
The formation of the Alliance for Wireless Power surfaced at the CTIA Wireless 2012 conference in New Orleans this past week. CTIA is the international association for the wireless telecommunications industry. In addition to Samsung and Qualcomm, other members include Ever Win International Corp., Gill Industries, Peiker Acustic, Powermat Technologies and SK Telecom.
While wireless charging technology, or WiPo, is still in the developmental stage-both Samsung and Qualcomm have been working independently on wireless power hardware for several years-company officials are eyeing a huge potential market for the technology in the federal sector as mobile devices rapidly proliferate throughout the government.
“I certainly see it,” said Robert Kubik, director of regulatory policy at Samsung. Government employees are “using a lot of wireless devices. They’re in the same situation that a lot of consumers are: they have a multitude of wireless devices and if you can get down to one [standard] technology to charge your devices, [wireless power] can be made ubiquitous throughout their offices.”
At Qualcomm, Mark Hunsicker, senior director of wireless power solutions, envisions widespread use in the military for wireless charging, particularly by warfighters on the move.
“The modern soldier needs to carry a tremendous number of battery-operated tools, [and the Defense Department is] looking at how the mobile soldier can utilize wireless power to keep those devices charged,” Hunsicker told Breaking Gov. “Certainly, Qualcomm has dedicated resources for serving the government’s requirements and we’ll…see what we can do support them.”
A4WP officials say their mission is to promote global standardization of a wireless power transfer technology to develop product testing, certification, and regulatory compliance processes and to foster industry dialogue with regulators.
For users, A4WP’s focus is on what alliance officials call “spatial freedom,” or the ability to charge multiple devices and types of devices simultaneously simply by putting them in range of a charging station.
“We feel that the wireless power charging experience really needs to be completely natural for the consumer, one where you’re comfortable just throwing [your device] down on your bedside table, or charging it in your automobile or in your conference room at the office ,” Hunsicker said.
“By having a wireless power technology that can deliver this spatial freedom, it really matches the natural user experience that we think is going to be required for this wireless power technology to meet its full potential.”
Both Samsung and Qualcomm have demonstrated hardware using wireless charging technologies, providing the “proof of concept” that the technology will soon be ready for commercialization, Hunsicker and Kubik agreed.
“Between Qualcomm and Samsung we have a very strong starting position such that the alliance members can work together on a specification,” Hunsicker said. “We don’t see a very long turnaround time from the first working groups in the alliance to some sort of formal publication of the specification.”
Asked to estimate how long it will take to develop the standard, Hunsicker said: “If it took a year I would be disappointed. We can’t afford for it to take too long.”