Microsoft gets behind wireless charging

Microsoft has announced that it's officially supporting the Wireless Power Consortium's QI standard for topping up the batteries of mobile devices without cables.

| Updated on: Mar 13 2014, 10:55 IST
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Microsoft has announced that it's officially supporting the Wireless Power Consortium's QI standard for topping up the batteries of mobile devices without cables.

The oldest and most established of the three competing standards that all want to be the de facto way of liberating consumer electronics devices from wall sockets, the Wireless Power Consortium(WPC) already counts 200 companies among its members.

It's a list that includes Qualcomm, LG, HTC, Samsung, Sony, Motorola, IKEA and, of course Nokia. The Finnish phonemaker has been a long-term supporter of the technology and has been offering the QI standard wireless recharging system as an option on its handsets for a number of years.

As such, it seems like a good idea, now the handset maker is a part of Microsoft, that Microsoft should continue to support the same standard, rather than aligning with another standard and having to redesign products in the development pipeline from scratch.

The announcement also means the future Microsoft Surface tablets and maybe even games consoles could be offered with wireless charging as an option.

There is no question of the benefits that wireless charging technology can offer consumers, who are becoming more and more reliant on smartphones and tablets for conducting every aspect of their daily lives. In an ideal world, every time a phone or tablet were placed on a table, it would automatically start recharging, meaning that battery life anxiety would be a thing of the past.

However, the reality is that there are three competing organizations that all want to be the universal standard and while they continue to butt heads, everyone loses out.

In February, the Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP) and the Power Matter Alliance (PMA) announced a sort of truce and agreed to work together towards a unified standard.

Of the agreement, Kamil Grajski, President, Alliance for Wireless Power, said: 'This announcement delivers a compelling message for the industry to commit and deliver wireless charging devices now. Between the organizations, A4WP and PMA membership consists of the key players necessary to drive industry consolidation and establish a commercially viable globally interoperable wireless charging ecosystem.'

But even with that accord in place, the new unified group is still in direct competition with the WPC, which Microsoft has just thrown its weight behind.

Industry experts and research firms still believe that the technology has the potential to be huge. According to IHS Technology, only 25 million wireless charging units, be they transmitters or receivers, were shipped in 2013 but that figure is expected to jump to 1.7 billion units by 2023.

It means that, for the next 10 years at least, serious smartphone power users will still have to make sure that their charging cables are packed in their bags at the start of the day.

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First Published Date: 13 Mar, 10:31 IST