Intel has joined Qualcomm and Samsung in the standard for wireless charging promoted by the Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP), which uses near-field magnetic resonance to top up batteries in phones, tablets, or laptops.
Wireless chargers use magnetic induction. They offer the promise of being able to place a device on a surface and have it charge automatically — no fiddling with cables required.
There’s one problem: There isn’t a single standard for wireless charging. There are three standards: the Wireless Power Consortium with the Qi pad (supported by Starbuck), Power Matter Alliance (PMA) with the Powermat, and Alliance for Wireless Power(A4WP), the most recent standards organization. The A4WP specification leverages the broadly adopted Bluetooth Low Energy standard, which simplifies development and manufacturing, according to Intel.
Intel says the A4WP standard supports laptops and is less sensitive about positioning, to “provide spatial freedom for charging of electrical devices in cars, on table tops and for multiple devices simultaneously”.
A4WP was formed last year by Samsung, Qualcomm, and wireless charging company Powermat, but now boasts over 50 members, including Broadcom, Sandisk and LG.
That’s roughly the same as the Power Matters Alliance (PMA) and only a third the number of partners as the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC).
In 2011, the Wireless Power Consortium began to extend the Qi specification to medium power. The low-power specification delivers up to 5 watts; the medium-power specification will deliver up to 120 watts.