Universal wireless charger standard gets public release

The Wireless Power Consortium has delivered the Qi 1.0 standard, which promises universal wireless charging for low-power mobile devices such as phones

The Wireless Power Consortium has publicly released a standard for wireless low-power charging for mobile devices and has started work on a medium-power version of the technology.

On Tuesday, the trade group delivered the Qi 1.0, which by certifying interoperability between devices will pave the way for the arrival of universal wireless chargers. The WPC said that a number of products that use the magnetic induction technology are on their way to market.

"It took us only 18 months to develop the Qi standard, and less than one month to see the first products certified. Qi is now the industry's choice for wireless power," said Menno Treffers, chairman of the WPC, in a statement.

Three sets of specifications — for interface definition, performance requirements and test procedure — were handed over to consortium members in July. The only standard released publicly as Qi 1.0 is the interface definition, with the others being restricted to consortium members. The WPC has grown from 27 members in July to over 55 members, including Nokia, LG, Research In Motion, Duracell, Energiser and Texas Instruments.

Wireless charging has great potential to make charging easier for consumers", said Petri Vuori, Nokia's director of mobile solutions research, in the WPC announcement statement. "For full user benefit, a standard ensuring cross-compatibility between different manufacturers' products is required. Qi low-power standard specification release 1.0 is a significant milestone into this direction."

The Qi standard uses inductive charging to transfer up to 5W of power between devices and chargers. There are already products on the market that support inductive charging, but these are tied to particular products, rather than being universal.

Initial products based on the Qi standard include a 'charging sleeve' for the iPhone3G/3GS, and a 'door' for the BlackBerry Curve 8900, both made by Energiser, according to the WPC. Sanyo has also developed a number of battery packs for mobiles that are compatible.

The WPC said that it now plans to begin work on a wireless power standard for medium power devices such as netbooks, laptops, tablet computers and power tools.

The group expects the technology to boost the market for wireless battery charging from 100,000 units to 100,000,000 units annually. "Qi can now be integrated into products. All ingredients for growing the market are now on the table." said Treffers.

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