“What’s new?” That’s what people usually asked when they visited the WPC booth at CES 2017 in Las Vegas a couple weeks back.
Before I share how I responded to that question, let me share an observation about the show’s visitors. The atmosphere was quite different this year. We didn’t have to explain what wireless charging or Qi is about. Admittedly, some struggle with the pronunciation of “Qi” but that will come with time. Almost every visitor already knew enough to get straight to the point.
A surprising number of visitors wanted to talk about their own product plans. They wanted to know more about integrating Qi chargers in larger products such as alarm clocks and furniture. They wanted to know about sourcing modules, and about the procedure for Qi certification. These are questions you typically hear in a mature market.
It is clear the role of the booth of the Wireless Power Consortium is expanding from promoting Qi and wireless charging to providing a marketplace for the wireless power supply chain and ecosystem. This is precisely the reason why we have seen success hosting our own tradeshows/conferences tied to our quarterly member events – product developers and marketers, engineers, and executives are taking steps in designing in or expanding how they are using Qi in their products and a growing number of applications. The next WPC event is scheduled in 16-17 February in London.
Back to CES, so what was new? The careful observer will have noticed the emphasis of our booth was on products that are really for sale. Products that consumers can purchase today. Outside of Qi, we witnessed more of the same – demos, announcements and promises that proprietary wireless power products “will ship later this year”. We prefer to focus on products that are real, safe, efficient and affordable.
Some examples of these real products include an iHome alarm clock with integrated wireless charger, a wireless charger for use in vehicles that personalizes the vehicles cabin environment, and a motorcycle smartphone mount by BMW with waterproof sealing and integrated wireless charger.
These examples illustrate the trend that new wireless chargers are increasingly about integrating wireless charging with other functions to achieve superior usability and convenience.
The WPC members also showcased demonstrations for the 60-200 Watt specification that is under development. Bosch demonstrated 60 Watt wireless charging of power tools. Rohm and NXP demonstrated wireless laptop charging. This illustrates the trend to increase the power level of wireless chargers. Our members’ experience with delivering safe and efficient wireless chargers makes that feasible.
After the event, some of the media believed that CES 2017 experienced a transitional year (no standout, killer product but more evolving trends like VR, autonomous vehicles, robots, etc.). This year for the WPC, the show was a transitional year as well – most of the CES visitors now have personal experience with and a stronger understanding of Qi wireless charging, and we can focus on supporting the ecosystem.