Implementation of the Wireless Power Consortium’s (WPC) standard is just on the verge of being realized. The fragmented solutions of the past that required bulky sleeves/cases just weren’t appealing enough to see mass adoption. With the help of carriers like Verizon Wireless and major OEMs like LG and Samsung, the WPC hopes Qi, the Consortium’s standardized specs for wireless charging, will lead to universal wireless charging for all.
Menno Treffers, chairman of the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC), says Qi is already being implemented in devices. Samsung, Motorola, LG and HTC have all produced devices that employ the standard.
“There’s a lot of support for the standard. Over 90 companies have joined the Wireless Power Consortium supporting it,” Treffers said. “The biggest step is that we now see integration with phones.”
Treffers says the initiative really got a boost with support from Verizon Wireless. “It really started with solutions that required these bulky sleeves, but with Verizon selling phones with integrated Qi receivers, that problem is gone and we really see the true benefit of wireless charging appearing.”
So how does this kind of thing stack up against standard chargers in terms of efficiency?
Treffers says traditional wall chargers are more efficient but that if you compare total energy consumption, it’s about the same, because the assumption is that the wireless charger will be used to charge a couple of phones throughout the day, so you’re replacing multiple chargers around the house. But the wireless charger also has lower standby power consumption.
Treffers says mass adoption of the technology isn’t that far off, as more OEMs look to use this feature as a differentiator. As far as Apple and its preference towards proprietary accessories, Treffers says that in the long term it will be more advantageous for iDevices to be within the fold of standardization.
“If you look at Apple, in the short to medium term, I see room for a prorietary Apple-only wireless charger next to the universal Qi charger. Apple is like that. There’s the Apple world and the rest of the world, but in the longterm, if these chargers get integrated into furniture or hotel rooms, it becomes less and less attractive to have proprietary solution.”
But this standard goes far beyond just mobile phones and the kinds of products that Apple makes. “Think of all the products you charge,” Treffers reminds. “This is about remote controls, cameras, everything that has a battery.”
Treffers says that OEMs will offer basic wireless chargers with their phones, but he adds that consumers will probably invest in higher-end chargers with extra features, such as those that can charge two or three devices at once.
Verizon Wireless currently offers the LG Revolution, which comes integrated with the Qi standard, however the wireless charging pad is sold separately.