Would you like to charge gadgets simply by placing them on a surface? You're not alone: since Palm introduced the Touchstone wireless charging dock in 2009, companies have been trying to commercialize inductive charging solutions for a variety of devices, from smartphones to automobiles. Today, however, there are a number of competing standards, each incompatible with the others. Here, we'll keep track of the battle, including new developments in inductive charging technology, until we can proclaim a victor.
Feb 20, 2014
Wireless charging for laptops is now in the works at one of the top competing standards. The Alliance for Wireless Power has just added Dell as one of its members, and it's announcing today a new wireless charging initiative to begin powering larger products, including laptops and some appliances. While wireless charging on laptops has never been out of the question, it appears that Dell is interested in actually making it happen down the road.Read Article >
"We are excited to work with other industry leaders in the A4WP to deliver on the promise of easy, flexible wireless charging across an array of mobile devices including smartphones, tablets and laptops," Glen Robson, Dell's chief technology officer, says in a statement.
Feb 11, 2014
Why can't you just place your phone on a table and have it wirelessly charge? Until today, there were three competing standards that couldn't agree on how the proven technology should work. The Wireless Power Consortium (WPC), the Power Matters Alliance (PMA), and the Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP) each attracted a number of powerful companies, but their chargers didn't play nice with one another. With too many "standards" on the table, consumers and businesses have understandably been hesistant to adopt any of them.Read Article >
That may be about to change. Today, the A4WP and PMA have signed a preliminary agreement to each adopt the other's technologies, effectively merging into a single standard. That leaves Qi as the only other competitor.
Dec 12, 2013
It's anyone's guess who will win the war to wirelessly charge your gadgets, but one of the three competing standards bodies is just about ready to do battle. Today, the Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP) has announced that it will launch a certification program for devices at the end of this year, under the brand name "Rezence."Read Article >
Rezence is a portmanteau of "resonant" and "essence," and its symbol is a lightning bolt inside a pair of brackets which define a particular space. A4WP members tell The Verge that the space could change depending on what the logo is trying to communicate. In a smartphone's notification bar, the space could also include bars of battery life as your battery gets filled. On a wireless charging surface, the brackets could extend to define the area in which you can place your devices in order to charge them properly.
Oct 31, 2013
Google has supported wireless charging on its Nexus devices for some time, and last year's Nexus 4 smartphone launched with a semi-circle "puck" that acted as a dock and charger for the device. This year, the company has gone back to the drawing board with its wireless charger, revamping its design and adding magnets for better stability when placing a device on it.Read Article >
The new charger is glossy on top, unlike the sticky, dust-collecting rubber finish on last year's model, and is compatible with the new Nexus 5 and this year's Nexus 7. Presumably, it will charge any Qi-compatible device, including last year's Nexus 4, but only devices that have the magnets built in to them (the Nexus 5 and Nexus 7) will be able to actually stick to the charger. The charger is square, and is wider on top than on the bottom, forming an upside down trapezoidal shape.
Oct 11, 2013
Orée, the French hardware startup that made its debut with a wooden wireless keyboard, is back in Tokyo to show off more products crafted from natural materials. The company is running another pop-up workshop from tomorrow, this time at the city's Institut Français.Read Article >
The first new product is an obvious follow-up to the last — whereas the Orée Board clearly took design cues from Apple's own wireless keyboard, the Touch Slab is a wooden take on the Magic Trackpad. It's carved from a single piece of maple or walnut, and feels pretty great; you wouldn't know the wood housed a touch sensor just to look at it. There's no physical click function, though, unlike the Magic Trackpad, so you'll have to be comfortable with tapping.
Oct 1, 2013
Will we ever be able to simply place a phone on a table and have it automatically charge? It's hard to say, but Qualcomm wants to be a part of that future, no matter which standards body wins the wireless charging war. As of today, the company is part of no fewer than three different competing standards bodies, including the Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP) it helped found last year. Two weeks ago, it joined the rival Wireless Power Consortium (WPC), and today it has joined the rival Power Matters Alliance (PMA) as well.Read Article >
The takeaway is pretty much the same as it was two weeks ago: there are still three competing standards bodies, and the fact that Qualcomm has a finger in each pie doesn't mean that the company intends to change that, or even that the company has the power to do so. However, Qualcomm might indeed be able to help unify one important piece of the puzzle. "It is Qualcomm’s belief that the other entities can leverage the work in resonant wireless charging that has been completed by the Alliance for Wireless Power," a representative told The Verge.
Sep 21, 2013
Wireless charging standards are a bit of a mess. There are at least three standards bodies vying to be the correct way to wirelessly send power to your devices: the Power Matters Alliance (PMA) favored by AT&T and Starbucks, the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC) backed by Verizon, and the Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP) formed by Qualcomm and Samsung. Each standards body has quite a few member companies as of today, and each has compelling arguments for why it should succeed. Unfortunately, they're also all pushing incompatible standards, so they can't all win in the end.Read Article >
That's why people might have reason to be excited about today's news: Qualcomm has decided to take a seat on the board of the WPC. The assumption being that there's no way Qualcomm can lead two different standards bodies and so one must inevitably go away. Unfortunately, that's not necessarily how this will work at all. Just take Powermat, which first defected from the WPC to become a founding member of the PMA, then helped found the A4WP as well.
Jul 26, 2013
The Powermat experiment at Starbucks appears to be going well. After rolling out the wireless tabletop charging stations to a small sample of locations in Boston, Starbucks is expanding the "evaluation" to select Silicon Valley stores. "We have seen positive customer response to wireless charging through our tests in Boston, and are pleased to now extend this experience for our customers in the Silicon Valley area," said Adam Brotman, chief digital officer at Starbucks.Read Article >
Pleased as Starbucks may be, the Powermat experience remains largely inconvenient for consumers. Virtually all of today's popular smartphones still require a case or, even worse, a portable battery to achieve compatibility with the system. The Power Matters Alliance has enjoyed some momentum in recent months (led by this Starbucks deal) but the competing Qi standard has already made its way into shipping devices — including the brand new Nexus 7. You won't be able to wirelessly top off Google's latest tablet at Starbucks, but for those who have already invested in the Powermat platform, a full list of charging locations can be found below.
Jun 20, 2013
In the competition to establish the one true wireless power standard, the Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP) is adding a big name partner today: Intel. The 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), both of which back a different technology, inductive charging, under the names Qi and Power 2.0. Although the battle won’t likely be won or lost by a single partner, Intel’s decision is notable since it’s the first time the company has publicly backed any wireless charging standard.Read Article >
As we wrote last month, magnetic resonant charging differs from the inductive charging backed by the WPC and PMA in that the device and charger are less tightly coupled, letting you charge multiple devices simultaneously, and across short distances. Intel, which has experimented with wireless charging in the past, thinks it can use the A4WP's technology to "help fuel an ecosystem of innovative solutions capable of simultaneously charging a range of devices, from low-power accessories to smartphones, tablets and Ultrabooks." Over the past year, the competing PMA has been on a bit of a roll, earning the endorsements of AT&T, Google, and Starbucks, but today's announcement goes to show that the race is still far from over.
May 21, 2013
Duracell-backed Powermat announced today that it plans to acquire Finnish wireless charging rival PowerKiss. The deal sees both companies combine under the Powermat brand, bringing together more than 2,500 wireless charging spots in airports, coffee shops, and retail stores across the US and Europe. The two companies previously allied under the Power Matters Alliance (PMA), attempting to prevail against the competing Wireless Power Consortium (WPC) — which supports the Qi standard used in Nokia, Samsung, and LG products.Read Article >
May 8, 2013
In 2001, Wi-Fi wasn't a sure thing. Two different standards, HomeRF and Wi-Fi, were competing to be the dominant wireless networking technology. But though HomeRF had a host of supporters and its proponents argued that the technology wasn't as susceptible to interference, today mentioning the name would probably buy you a blank stare. One reason for that is the Apple iBook, the first of many laptops to integrate Wi-Fi. The other is Starbucks, which rolled out Wi-Fi on a vast scale to serve those laptops starting in 2002.Read Article >
Though the WPC is responsible for the Qi standard that appears in several recent high-end phones, it's the PMA that appears to be winning over the coffee shop. Starbucks has not only begun trialing the technology in Boston stores, it recently took a seat on the PMA board. "The next anticipated step is indeed that the rollout will be expanded significantly in the coming months," Schreiber told us. PowerKiss (which will supply 1,000 McDonalds stores in Europe) defected from the WPC to the PMA in March. And on Wednesday, The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf did the same, with plans to roll out PMA-approved wireless charging internationally after a trial this quarter in "dozens" of California stores.
Apr 17, 2013
Wireless charging standard Qi looked formidable. High profile phones like the Nokia Lumia 920, the HTC Droid DNA, the Samsung Galaxy S III and the LG-built Google Nexus 4 all included the tech. Public charging stations were rolling out, including many in Japan. And yet now, it's looking like a rival wireless charging standard has even more momentum. HTC, LG, and Samsung all used Qi, but starting today they're members of the Power Matters Alliance as well, joining Google, AT&T, and Starbucks, which all signed on in 2012. BlackBerry's also on board as of this year, and a company called PowerKiss recently spurned Qi for PMA in its quest to bring wireless charging stations to McDonalds' restaurants in Europe.Read Article >
Mar 14, 2013
Samsung has officially announced the Galaxy S4 at its Radio City Music Hall event in New York City. JK Shin, Samsung's head of mobile communications, teased a number of the leaked features that we expected to hear and then finally introduced the new handset, which looks just like what we saw in earlier leaks. The phone will launch on 327 mobile operators in 55 countries starting at the end of April, with 3G and 4G / LTE versions available, and its polycarbonate case will initially be available in two colors, white and black.Read Article >
The 5-inch screen features a 1080p resolution, as expected, is covered with Corning's Gorilla Glass 3, and it's known as a "full HD super AMOLED" screen with 441 pixels per inch. The phone comes with 802.11ac Wi-Fi (which also runs on the standard a/b/g/n bands), Bluetooth 4.0, and Cat 3 100 / 50 Mbps LTE, and also comes with an IR blaster like the HTC One. Key specs include a removable 2,600 mAh battery, 2GB of RAM, and 16, 32, or 64 GB of storage. Also of note is the new processor — either a Samsung Exynos 5 or Qualcomm Snapdragon
S4 Pro600 processor, depending on the region. (Update: we learned the day after Samsung's event that the Qualcomm processor Samsung is using was not the Snapdragon S4 Pro but the more powerful Snapdragon 600.)
Feb 11, 2013Read Article >
The elusive Nexus 4 wireless charging orb — one of the most striking features of Google's Android flagship — is finally on sale through Google Play, a few months after the phone's launch. It's currently selling for $59.99 in the US, with shipping times quoted as around a week; we're not yet sure of overall international availability. The Nexus 4 itself has only recently come back in stock on the Play Store, after Google apparently massively underestimated initial demand, so this is fairly good timing. We've also seen longer delays on some other Google accessories, like the Nexus 7's dock. The Nexus 4 orb recalls the now-discontinued Palm Touchstone, and Nokia's Lumia 920 has also incorporated wireless charging based on the Qi standard.
Jan 8, 2013
Licensing company Fulton Innovation has demoed its wireless charging tech that facilitates two-way wireless charging from mobile devices. Using the Qi standard for wireless charging, Fulton's demo allows for a device — in this case a tablet — to be charged via a standard charging mat before the tablet itself charges a separate Qi-compatible device. It all seemed to work pretty flawlessly, but there's no target date in sight just yet; Fulton will instead work with the Wireless Power Consortium to get the technology integrated into the Qi standard.Read Article >
Jan 6, 2013
Fulton Innovation has been showing off advances in wireless power at CES for years now, and while the technology still isn't exactly mainstream, it got a bit of a boost in 2012. High-profile phones like the Nokia Lumia 920, HTC Droid DNA, and Nexus 4 are all compatible with the Qi standard that Fulton supports, and we'd expect to see even more devices include the feature in 2013.Read Article >
While Fulton will certainly be showing off the growing collection of Qi-compatible phones at CES, the company usually takes advantage of the show to display new and emerging technology that may not have a place yet in consumer products, and this year is no exception. Probably the most intriguing new technology on display is Fulton's new two-way technology. The company will be showing off a tablet that can be wirelessly charged — but it can also share that charge with other Qi-compatible phones. From a quick demo video that Fulton released a few weeks ago, it looks like the tablet can function as a wireless charging pad for other devices, something that might come in handy if your phone is dying but your tablet's large battery remains well-charged.
Dec 19, 2012
wiToyota has just announced that its 2013 Avalon will be the world's first vehicle to offer in-console Qi wireless charging for mobile devices. It's a major victory for the Qi standard; support from automakers is nothing short of critical if any wireless charging solution is to gain mainstream momentum. Qi charging is available as part of a technology package for the new Avalon Limited, which made its way to Toyota showrooms earlier this month. Occupants will be able to place any Qi-compatible device down on a charging pad situated in the vehicle's center console.Read Article >
Existing handsets without Qi's technology built in can also be charged when placed in specialized cases cases, as demonstrated in the above photo of Apple's iPhone. Randy Stephens, the chief engineer behind the 2013 Avalon, said that partnering with Qi — which faces heightening competition from the Power Matters Alliance and other companies vying to control the wireless charging market — "reflects Toyota's continuing commitment to improve the consumer experience." The company isn't yet saying if and when other models will gain similar functionality. Qi's wireless charging standard has seen implmentation in several smartphones of late including Nokia's Lumia 920, the Google / LG Nexus 4, and HTC's Windows Phone 8X.
Nov 16, 2012
Wireless charging — an oft-requested, rarely-implemented feature in smartphones that's only recently started to gain widespread acceptance — has seen a rash of headline announcements and product launches in the last few weeks, most notably the Google Nexus 4 and Nokia's updated Lumia series. But like many tech concepts still in their retail infancy, the wireless power industry is rife with factions, agendas, and incompatible standards: Qi, the protocol promoted by the Wireless Power Consortium, has the most traction with a member list that includes Belkin, Energizer, LG, Motorola, Nokia, Samsung, Sony, and Verizon Wireless.Read Article >
And with a list of heavyweights that long, that means that Qi is well on its way to entrenching itself as the dominant standard, right? Not necessarily.
Nov 13, 2012
Droid DNA unveiled: Verizon's first 1080p phone will cost $199 on November 21st, pre-orders begin today
Verizon has just announced the Droid DNA, a 5-inch Android 4.1 smartphone with a spectacular 1920 x 1080 display resolution, matching the vast majority of what we consider high-definition televisions. The subject of rampant rumors and copious leaks ahead of its release, the Droid DNA will already be familiar to enthusiasts of the eternal Android spec race, but just as a refresher, here are the highlight items on its feature list: the processor inside is a 1.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro, allied to 2GB of RAM and LTE wireless connectivity, the display is a third-generation Super LCD 3 panel, and the camera features the same f/2.0 aperture and ImageChip processor as on the One X.Read Article >
The skin atop Google's Android Jelly Bean software is HTC's Sense 4+, which includes Beats Audio sound processing. In keeping with HTC's other recent handsets, the Droid DNA includes beefed-up amplifiers for the headset and rear speaker, to help support the extra volume you'll surely be wanting to pump out. This new phone also supports wireless charging, with the functionality being built into the handset as with the Windows Phone 8X.
Nov 8, 2012
Verizon has confirmed it will carry HTC's Windows Phone 8X with wireless charging support. Exclusive to the US carrier, the support is built straight into the device, which will be available to pre-order on November 9th. The Verge revealed the 8X wireless charging in late October, matching the Lumia 822's own charging support.Read Article >
We understand that HTC's 8X Verizon variant will include Qi wireless charging, making it compatible with a range of docks and accessories. An updated blog post from Verizon confirms the wireless charging addition for the 8X. Pre-orders for the HTC 8X and Lumia 822 on Verizon will begin at 1AM ET on November 9th, with the 8X priced at $199 and the 822 at $99. Both devices will be available on two year contracts.
Oct 30, 2012
Verizon may have missed out on Nokia's Lumia 920 handset to AT&T, but the carrier will offer wireless charging in HTC's Windows Phone 8X this fall. Sources with knowledge of Verizon's Windows Phone plans have revealed that the carrier will offer the support as a variant that will likely be exclusive in the US. We're told that the Verizon 8X will not be any thicker due to the wireless charging addition, and that it will be built straight into the handset.Read Article >
We understand that Verizon will announce the 8X wireless charging support in the very near future with two year contract plans. Verizon has previously committed to carrying the 8X and Nokia's Lumia 822. The carrier will also stock a Samsung Ativ Odyssey in December.
Oct 29, 2012
One of the big features of the new Google Nexus 4 smartphone is support for wireless charging, and so alongside the phone Google is releasing the aptly-named Wireless Charging Orb. Shaped like a sphere sliced crosswise, it bears more than a passing resemblance to Palm's Touchstone. The face of the dock is set at an angle so you can easily see the phone, and it's finished with a soft-touch plastic that should ensure that it won't mar the glass back of the Nexus 4. Google tells us that it's using the Qi wireless charging standard, so charging pads designed for Nokia's Lumia phones should also work on the Nexus 4.Read Article >
Google's Wireless Charging Orb takes inspiration from the Touchstone in several other ways. As mentioned above, the phone sits at an angle on the dock — a feature that only works because both the dock and the Nexus 4 have magnets inside them — just like Palm Pre phones. You can orient the phone in either portrait or landscape as well. The other major feature Google borrowed from Palm is a feature in Android 4.2 called "Daydream." It displays photos, news from Google Currents, or other information when the phone is docked. That same feature was available on webOS, then called Exhibition. Whatever the source of ideas may be, it will make the Nexus 4 a little more useful as it's charging on your desk.
Oct 29, 2012
Starbucks, Google, and AT&T have decided to support the Power Matters Alliance: a wireless power standards group formed by Powermat and Procter & Gamble (parent company of Duracell). The Alliance intends to create wireless power standards for phones and devices under the IEEE association's guidelines, and competes with other wireless standards groups like the Alliance for Wireless Power (of which Powermat is also a supporter), and the Wireless Power Consortium (which pushes for the Qi standard). The alliance's biggest rival, Qi, is backed by a number of hardware vendors including Samsung, Motorola, LG, and HTC.Read Article >
As part of its support for the PMA, Starbucks plans to pilot Duracell Powermat charging stations in 17 of its Boston-area stores, which could lead to a broader rollout — something that would give the PMA, and by extension, Duracell Powermat, an important foothold in the US. As Boston.com reports, Starbucks says that the company plans to test the charging stations through the holidays, survey its customers and stores early next year, and then "regroup with Powermat to figure out the next steps."
Oct 5, 2012
MoDaCo founder Paul O'Brien has just released details on the purported LG Nexus, which he says came from a source he trusts "101 percent." The smartphone will be released in mid-November and is based on the flagship Optimus G, but the device will not look the same as LG's. The leaked specs include a 1280x768 "True-HD" IPS screen, quad-core Snapdragon S4 processor, and 2GB of RAM. It will also have a sealed, non-removable battery and, initially at least, either 8GB or 16GB of internal storage with no microSD expansion. Although MoDaCo doesn't say how large the LG Nexus' screen might be, if it's based on the Optimus G 4.7-inches would be a good guess.Read Article >
Aside from a spec sheet that's among the best on the market, a big selling point for Google seems to be wireless charging out of the box — a feature that's never been found in a Nexus device in the past. O'Brien says it's not clear if the device will be the only Nexus to be released, or one of many, but with the supposed release date little more than a month away, we shouldn't have too long a wait to find out.
Sep 12, 2012
Phil Schiller sees no need for NFC or wireless charging, Lightning connector to be used 'for many years'
With each week that Apple came closer to announcing the iPhone 5, prospects that its latest handset would contain Near Field Communication (NFC) technology seemed to dwindle. What began as an "obvious" rumor quickly turned into unlikely speculation. In an interview with AllThingsD following today's media event, Schiller shed some light on why Apple chose to keep NFC out of the handset — at least this time around. The answer is software. "Passbook does the kinds of things customers need today," the VP of marketing said, seemingly confident that iPhone buyers won't miss the ability to make the type of direct mobile payments possible with Google Wallet and, eventually, ISIS.Read Article >
The allure of wireless charging also didn't appeal to the company, with Schiller pointing out that users would ultimately need to plug a charger into a power outlet anyway. “Having to create another device you have to plug into the wall is actually, for most situations, more complicated."