Power Without Wires: A Practical Look at The State of Wireless Charging Technologies
Last night more than 30 leading brands across multiple industries met in London to discuss the growing need for wireless charging capabilities and solutions. Innovative leaders in retail and manufacturing like IKEA, Nokia, Aircharge, Microsoft and various German car manufacturers shared insights and strategies for wireless charging implementation with attendees at the expanded roundtable event.
WPC member companies that have already experienced wireless charging success and witnessed the growth of Qi, shared their stories, including: ZENS’ recent outfitting of an entire Deloitte building in Amsterdam with Qi chargers at every desk workspace; CE4A’s research and recommendation to its members to install Qi technology for in-car wireless charging capability; furniture companies such as IKEA and C+P Furniture inclusion of Qi technology in their office equipment.
The event was held in London’s Clerkenwell design district, notable for its recent large-scale deployment of Qi in multiple shops and buildings. In addition to sharing best practices of this implementation, Clerkenwell gave a look ahead at what’s to come, and explained the “miniature Qi world,” which is our dream of an always-charged, battery anxiety-free world.
These forward thinking companies joined together to show how innovative ideas with Qi can transform the future of technology. Other topics of discussion included:
- Status and new service opportunities with broad wireless charging adoption
- Real-world installation experiences
- The necessity of interoperability, efficiency and technical advancement in wireless charging
Qi wireless charging goes mainstream
Qi has entered mainstream consumer adoption and quickly solidified its position as market leader. With new Qi installations in airports, public venues, office buildings, restaurants, hotels and cars, the installed base of Qi-enabled wireless charging spots has increased to more than 30 countries and one million locations.
Qi’s success is due to our 200-plus member companies that are fueling exciting innovation of the Qi standard, building unique Qi products and developing Qi-based business services. Our members are driving the accelerated adoption of wireless charging by consumers and businesses around the globe.
With more than 65 Qi-compatible mobile phone models and more than 500 different Qi products, the deployed base and industry commitment to the Qi standard has expanded to 50 million devices, allowing users to experience the utility and convenience of wireless charging and related services.
Take a look at the different places Qi can be found:
- Facebook, Google, Texas Instruments, Verizon and other notable companies have deployed Qi chargers in corporate meeting rooms.
- Described as the most sustainable office building in the world, Deloitte’s state-of-the-art building in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, has all of its office desks outfitted with Qi wireless chargers from ZENS.
- Nine McDonalds restaurants in Hannover, Germany, recently installed Qi chargers in its tables. McDonalds representative David Ehmann said, “We are happy to provide this innovative technology for our guests with noticeable benefit and free of charge.”
- Toronto’s Kanga Café installed Qi wireless charging in its tables, so patrons can enjoy Australian cuisine while charging without an outlet. Also in Toronto, coffee shops across the city have adopted Qi, including Balzacs, Coffee Bar Inc., Sense Appeal and Thor.
- Technologically-advanced Kitchen 67, based in Michigan, also distinguishes itself with Qi. “Qi brings more business into the restaurant. It’s been a big part of the overall success of Kitchen 67 with the overall technology integration into the entertainment aspect of the guest experience,” said a Kitchen 67 representative.
- Kube Systems recently unveiled a universal charging system featuring Qi, the PowerKube. It later announced a business agreement with Marriott International, Inc., to deliver a premium charging solution that meets the technology needs of guests for its Marriott Hotels brand.
- Verizon has deployed 800 Qi-enabled charging spots at major airports around the U.S. (Also see USA Today’s post about the Verizon charging spots)
- Haier has installed Qi charging locations in the Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing, China, with an additional 75 locations planned for deployment in various locations within the next year.
- In Japan, DoCoMo has planted countless Qi chargers in airports and train stations throughout the country.
- Qi has been installed throughout the Clerkenwell design district in London; at France’s Roland Garros stadium (home to the French Open); and is currently being installed in major stadiums and venues in the U.S.
- Qi chargers are offered in various models of Toyota, Honda, Chrysler, General Motors, Lexus and SsangYong vehicles. If your car has wireless charging, it’s Qi ready.
- After a three-year study, the German auto consortium CE4A has recommended Qi for in-car wireless charging in Audi, BMW, Mercedes Benz, Porsche and Volkswagen.
PowerbyProxi's resonant and inductive evaluation kit
PowerbyProxi announced the availability of an evaluation kit for transmitters and receivers that work in bioth resonant and inductive mode.
The evaluation kit is compatible with all existing Qi products, receivers as well as transmitters.
Here is a great video that demonstrates the capabilities as well the compatibility with existing Qi products.
Major Milestones for V1.2 Resonant Specification
WPC’s v1.1 specification, supported by the largest ecosystem comprising over 200 member companies, enables the most efficient and cost-effective wireless power solutions based on inductive power, close-coupled technology.
WPC’s Resonant Task Force (RTF) will deliver an extension for WPC v1.1 specification for a best-in-class magnetic resonance technology to address applications that require multi-device charging, increased spatial freedom, increased charging at distance (Z-height), and devices that are designed for different power levels.
The RTF has set high goals for backward compatibility to existing v1.1 specification, efficiency, transmitted power, FOD, thermal design, and other critical parameters. Meeting these goals would result in the most advanced and compelling products addressing a broad set of applications such as smartphones, tablets, PCs, wearables, automotive, and infrastructure.
Members saw significant achievements and progress at WPC’s Leeuwarden meeting in June, last month. After hundreds of combined engineering hours by 5 of the world’s leading companies, here’s what happens with an open standards organization when the best minds in the industry collaborate:
- Q1.1 receivers based on inductive v1.1 specification and charging at a Z-height of 7 mm, are now capable being charged at a Z-height of 30 mm
- New magnetic resonance v1.2 receivers can now be charged at Z-height of 45mm, expecting further Z-Height in final production designs
- Backward compatibility between Qi v1.1 and Qi 1.2 systems (v1.1 receivers charging on v1.2 transmitters, v1.2 receivers charging on v1.1 transmitters), allowing consumers protection of investment
- Multi-device V1.2 Receivers charging on a v1.2 transmitter with one inverter, delivering lowest cost designs
Figure 1 - Multiple manufacturers demonstrating Qi1.1 and Qi1.2 resonant systems
Figure 2 - LG v1.2 resonant Tx's delivering power to v1.1 inductive Rx and v1.2 resonant Rx
Figure 3 - LG resonant Tx delivering power to PowerbyProxi resonant Rx
Figure 4 - Philips resonant Tx delivering power to PowerbyProxi resonant RX at distance of 45mm Z height
Figure 5 - Convenient Power Tx delivering power to PowerbyProxi resonant RX at distance of 18mm Z height
The plug-fest was festive indeed!
The WPC is an open standards organization enabling the use the best ideas from any company. That’s why Qi sets the standard for wireless power transfer.
Chairman of the Resonance Taskforce
Message from our CTO, Yongcheol Park
Members and followers of the Wireless Power Consortium,
It is my honor to be nominated and appointed to the position of Chief Technology Officer of the Wireless Power Consortium. This is an exciting time for the WPC and significant advances are being made across many of the working groups. These advances show the true potential and value of an evolving and interoperable standard, which is precisely what we have in Qi.
I will work closely with the joint chairs of the Low Power Work Group, Medium Power Work Group, Resonance Task Force and Compliance and Compatibility Test Group to foster collaborative working group relationships and ensure technical progress is shared. As the global wireless charging leader, it will be my role to ensure that this tremendous momentum is continued through technical advances and new innovations.
Wireless charging is a better way of charging, and I look forward to playing a role in the WPC’s mission to establish a global standard that will make all wireless chargers compatible with all phones and other battery operated products.
[Read more about the role of our CTO in this announcement]
Reliability of Alzheimer's Patients GPS tracker
Qi improves the reliability of Alzheimer's Patient GPS tracker
GPS trackers alert caregivers the instant a patient with special needs wanders outside of their home and allows patients to call for help when they feel lost.
This technology works well provided the patient keeps the GPS tracker fully charged. That is a challenge for all users but particularly difficult for these patients.
The Dutch service provider LiveSafe provides a mobile alarm device which is activated by pressing the alarm button. Within a few seconds contact is made with the alarm centre. If the user is no longer able to press the button himself, the mobile alarm device automatically contacts the alarm centre via the so-called “fall alarm”. The alarm centre agent has access to the user’s records and knows exactly who is calling, where the person is at that moment and what their most important personal and medical details are, so that the right help can be provided.
LiveSafe makes it easier to keep the GPS tracker charged by providing a wireless charging solution. In cooperation with ZENS, the wireless charger serves as place to store the GPS tracker overnight, without need to plug in wires.
200th member: Aircharge by Ergo
Aircharge by Ergo is the 200th Member of the Wireless Power Consortium
We’re excited to announce that Aircharge, a division of Ergo, has recently joined the Wireless Power Consortium. Their new membership marks the 200th member milestone of the WPC.
I had the opportunity to ask Steve Liquorish, CEO at Aircharge-Ergo, a couple of questions about why they decided to join the WPC and support the Qi standard.
Here’s what Steve had to say:
Why did your company choose to join the Wireless Power Consortium?
We are a lead supplier and manufacturer of ergonomic office furniture, products and LED lighting. For the past year, we’ve been looking to integrate wireless charging capabilities into our products in order to take them to the next level and offer the best user experience to our customers. We decided to join the WPC because Qi is taking the lead as the global standard for wireless charging, and we were ready to move forward with our wireless power design roadmap pretty aggressively.
Big players in the industry are embracing Qi, including the committee of automobile manufacturers, CE4A, which includes Audi, BMW, Daimler, Porsche, and Volkswagen. With the products that we develop, we believe that the Qi solution fits nicely with our roadmap. And as Qi continues to be built into an increasing number of mobile devices, we have a big role to play in helping to build out the infrastructure to enable consumers to use this technology wherever they go.
What’s your take on the future of wireless power and where do you see the industry heading?
From our perspective, we see the whole wireless charging ecosystem rolling out over the next few years. We envision consumers having various charging areas around their community where they can charge their phone on-the-go, wherever they are. While this is an emerging process at the moment, it is clear that the convenience of charging your mobile device while at home, in the car, or in your office is important to consumers. As we become increasingly dependent on mobile devices, our innovative products will help make drained batteries a thing of the past.
We’re excited to see the innovative products Aircharge will bring to the wireless charging community. Welcome, Aircharge!
Element14 Challenge: Wireless Power Beyond the Phone
Element14 Wireless Power Challenge "Beyond the Phone"
Wireless Power Transfer Solution To Go
Integrating wireless power in devices is an easy task for anyone, if they have the right tools available. On the mechanical side there are some challenges, but on the electronic side, there are tools.
Texas Instruments and Würth Elektronik have put together a plug and play solution which demonstrates the benefits of wireless power transfer. This kit can be used as a full-featured development platform right out of the box! You can immediately connect the receiver to the power management (2 wires) of your device and wireless power comes to life. The kit offers a variety of programmable parameters to set your wireless power transfer requirements.
Wireless Power Transfer Solution To Go provides the following benefits:
- Plug & Play 5W Wireless Power Transfer Demonstration
- Complete demo boards for fast integration of Wireless Power into your product design without any problems
- Meets the Qi Standard of the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC)
- Use of optimized components
"Beyond the Phone" Wireless Power Challenge
To further increase the awareness and knowledge for wireless power, element14 (Farnell) started a collaboration with Texas Instruments and Würth Elektronik aptly named "Beyond the Phone" Challenge, which is their second design competition utilizing Wireless Power.
The finalists will be given the task of incorporating wireless power into their daily lives to provide solutions which go beyond the phone and which draw the day closer, when wireless power will be embedded everywhere.
Details at http://www.element14.com/community/groups/wireless-power-solution
New Toyota models with Qi chargers
Users describe their experience with wireless charging.
Hands-on with Qi
Qi delivers a great user experience, not only in theory but in real life. Read what these users experienced:
"I’ve also found myself converted to wireless charging — the Nexus 5 supports the Qi charging standard, and I’ve been using it with a Samsung charging pad for the past couple of months. (In fact, I’ve only plugged my Nexus 5 in to charge a handful of times in total.) Phil's been using the Zens Wireless Charger. It’s a feature we’d love to see on more devices in the coming year." - Alex Dobie in Android Central.
"Now I have it, I wouldn't be without it. I've put charging pads in the two offices I work in regularly, and by my bed. In combination with NFC tags to set a profile in each place, they really improve the usability of a smartphone, so much so that both capabilities will be non-negotiable requirements for my next phone." - Geoff Cambell in a comment on an article in The Register.
"Nokia spoiled me with wireless charging in the Lumia 920 and now I want that in all of my devices. I have three Qi wireless charging pads at home and in the office and find it much more convenient to just set down a device on the pad rather than messing around with a microUSB cable and figuring out which end is up to plug it in." - Matthew Miller on ZDnet, explaining Seven reasons to buy the new Google Nexus 7.
"I’m pleased with the wireless charging accessory, it works like it’s supposed to, and wireless charging definitely is an added convenience after you’ve used it for a while. [...] Of course the nice thing about Qi is that after you have the cover, you can always shop around for a pad that suits you." - Brian Klug on AnandTech
"I considered wireless charging a gimmick until I picked up a wireless charging stand. After using it for a short period, I bought another one, they're pretty damn awesome especially if you pick the phone up and put it down often." - User #159443 at Whirlpool Forums
"I will admit to believing it was a gimmick at first. 6 months later, it is a necessity. I love the wireless features, and would never buy another phone without it." - Mikado_Wu commenting on an article about the JBL Power Up
"If you've got a couple of Qi chargers you really, really do appreciate the convenience. And the Qi standard is now winning critical support, Samsung will support it in the S4, and so it looks like being the VHS rather than the Betamax of the wireless charging wars." - Andrew Orlowski, The Register
"To be honest plugging a cord into a phone once every day or two isn't exactly a trying task so at a glance wireless charging sounded more of a novelty than a necessary technology but how wrong could I be! The action of just putting your phone down on to the charging plate as you would put your phone on the coffee table/kitchen bench/desk is a no brainer, it's not some sci-fi mumbo jumbo, it is a logical solution to an existing problem." - Wade, TelecomTech blog (geekzone.co.nz)
"I’m becoming a huge fan. Getting the micro-USB plug into most phones is a pain particularly when I’m tired and just want to go to bed. The number of times I’ve awakened to a dead phone because I didn’t push the plug in all the way is embarrassingly large as a result. With inductive charging [...] you just set the phone down on the charger and walk away finding the phone fully charged when you wake up. It may seem like a little thing but it was a nightly annoyance to get that damned plug in the right way in a dark room and not having to do that is almost worth this phone alone." - Rob Enderle, TG Daily
"The [HTC Droid] DNA features Qi wireless charging technology. The phone began charging within a couple of seconds after being placed on the Nokia Lumia 920's charging pad." - Sherri L. Smith, Laptop Mag
"Once you have a wireless charger around, then using it becomes second nature, you top-up more often than you would. It’s one tiny hassle removed from the day. The phone doesn’t need to be carefully aligned with the plate, so you just plunk it down and let it charge. Which it does fairly rapidly; there is a speed penalty to wireless charging but it’s surprisingly light: wireless power-ups are around 10 to 20 per cent slower than direct charging, I found." - Andrew Orlowski, The Register
"[Wireless charging] is not a must have, but once you have it, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it." Michelle Maisto, eWeek
"We're big fans of the wireless charging ability, as it puts an end to fumbling around in the dark for a cable and then taking 20 attempts to finally get it plugged in – popping the Lumia 920 down on its plate is just a more pleasing experience." John McCann, Tech Radar
“The [Google] Nexus 4 also fully supports the Qi wireless charging standard, which means you can use any Qi-capable charging pad to refill your battery -- we even took it for a spin on the Fatboy recharging pillow sold by Nokia, and it worked like a charm.” - Brad Molen, Engadget
“The convenience of simply dropping the Nokia Lumia 920 on the Fatboy pillow is great. I have it sitting on my desk so when I am there the Lumia 920 is charging up which can lead to it being charged up more often.” Mattew Miller, ZDNet
"We managed to hold the Nokia Lumia 820 a good inch off the charging plate and for it to still be getting a charge through, which shows how efficient the charging plate is.” Mike Brown, NokNok