It has been an incredibly exciting start to 2015 with several major announcements in wireless power along with several noticeable absences…
Just last week we saw the first major smartphone manufacturer (major by market share) embed wireless charging into their flagship device. Samsung has decided to build in the WPC’s Qi technology into their flagship Galaxy S6 and S6 edge device. Qi wireless charging will be supported out of the box by Samsung for the first time. These new smartphones will also support PMA. This is sometimes called “dual-mode.” As a WPC steering group member this is great news. You may be surprised to hear me say that, but it really is.
What it means is that companies making a significant investment to deploy infrastructure in coffee shops, cars, airports, home furniture and so on, can make those investments with confidence. There is no longer any fear or uncertainty regarding which standard major smartphones will adopt.
These dual-mode phones are and will continue to drive demand for Qi transmitters. It’s not hard to see why. Qi caters to the widest range of applications and offers a clear path forward to resonance whilst guaranteeing full backwards compatibility. Brands like IKEA, AirCharge, McDonalds, Chargespot, Marriott, Toyota to name few are all choosing Qi transmitters. That’s right – Qi only transmitters. In fact, there are over 682 Qi certified devices today.
The WPC called out a few key stats in its recent Press release:
With the Samsung Galaxy S6 joining the Qi club, today almost every single smartphone manufacturer (except Apple, Levono and Xiaomi) has a flagship device with Qi wireless charging built in. This includes LG, HTC, Google Nexus, Microsoft and Motorola.
Aircharge’s recently launched app is a great way to find Qi charging spots around the world. It shows that there are over 3,000 locations in a wide variety of locations supporting Qi and this is only the beginning. Businesses are paying to install Qi. To put that in context, the PMA has 200 noted locations –all within Starbucks locations. The noticeable absence of the A4WP camp is also interesting. A4WP has no products in the market to date.
Why then did PMA select A4WP as its resonance path forward given how similar WPC and PMA technology are? As an engineer and technologist, it’s hard to see how PMA and A4WP technologies can result in a single truly interoperable standard. One can always co-house systems, but that’s not a cost effective solution – nor is it likely to fit in a modern day smartphone.
Additionally, you may find it interesting that most of the press seems to have misinterpreted the merging of two standards organisations as the merging of two standards – which it is not.
When we hosted the Wireless Power Consortium in Auckland in January, the Resonant Qi Specification was made available to its 200+ member companies. We were pleased to host the meeting for the second year and contributed a significant amount of our technology, intellectual property and expertise to deliver a highly efficient, backwards-compatible, resonant wireless charging system.
We now we have the world’s first resonant system compatible with the most widely deployed wireless power standard. That’s extremely exciting as it provides companies like Samsung a clear path to Resonant Qi with full backwards compatibility to Inductive Qi.
The advancement includes safety features such as foreign object detection, even with multi-device systems, as well as an industry leading 70%+ total system efficiency for a fast and effective charge.
PowerbyProxi’s new evaluation kit is a single design which supports both Resonant Qi and Inductive Qi modes, providing a clear way forward for the growing number of OEMs who are integrating the WPC’s Qi standard into their smartphones and other devices.
2015 is already off to a fast start and is going to be an incredibly exciting year for wireless power. One that we will look back on as a tipping point in the industry.
Posted on Wireless Power Consortium website
WPC’s v1.1 specification, supported by the largest ecosystem comprising over 200 member companies, enables the most efficient and cost-effective wireless power solutions based on inductive power, close-coupled technology.
WPC’s Resonant Task Force (RTF) will deliver an extension for WPC v1.1 specification for a best-in-class magnetic resonance technology to address applications that require multi-device charging, increased spatial freedom, increased charging at distance (Z-height), and devices that are designed for different power levels.
The RTF has set high goals for backward compatibility to existing v1.1 specification, efficiency, transmitted power, FOD, thermal design, and other critical parameters. Meeting these goals would result in the most advanced and compelling products addressing a broad set of applications such as smartphones, tablets, PCs, wearables, automotive, and infrastructure.
Members saw significant achievements and progress at WPC’s Leeuwarden meeting in June, last month. After hundreds of combined engineering hours by 5 of the world’s leading companies, here’s what happens with an open standards organization when the best minds in the industry collaborate:
Figure 1 – Multiple manufacturers demonstrating Qi1.1 and Qi1.2 resonant systems
Figure 2 – LG v1.2 resonant Tx’s delivering power to v1.1 inductive Rx and v1.2 resonant Rx
Figure 3 – LG resonant Tx delivering power to PowerbyProxi resonant Rx
Figure 4 – Philips resonant Tx delivering power to PowerbyProxi resonant RX at distance of 45mm Z height
Figure 5 – Convenient Power Tx delivering power to PowerbyProxi resonant RX at distance of 18mm Z height
The plug-fest was festive indeed!
The WPC is an open standards organization enabling the use the best ideas from any company. That’s why Qi sets the standard for wireless power transfer.
Chairman of the Resonance Taskforce
PowerbyProxi presents a vision of how wireless power can be integrated into the home and office to enable greater convenience for the charging of devices and managing power within these environments. We further consider its impact on transport infrastructure and what a unified standard means for overseas travel.
Transcript for the video is included below:
PowerbyProxi offers a glimpse into the not-so-distant future to consider a world where wireless power is part of everyday life – a world where the last cable has been unplugged. Some of the most noticeable changes start in the home. Unrestricted by the power cable, embedded transmitters and integrated receivers safely charge or power electronic devices and appliances across a range of surfaces. Everything from televisions to lights, to kitchen appliances can be moved and repositioned at will while continuing to be powered.
Miniaturization of receivers to enable convenient wireless recharging will breed further advances in the development of handheld devices and wearable technologies. More significantly, users will be able to directly manage how power is distributed. Consider, for instance, the ability to remotely monitor and coordinate the charging of numerous devices. Not only will power become more flexible and accessible than ever before, but consumers will be able to exercise greater control over how it is used.
The same benefits will translate into the office, where integrated wireless power and wireless data solutions, will boost operational efficiency. Aside from the reduction in cable clutter, integrated transmitters provide for convenient reconfiguration of workspaces and greater interconnectedness between devices. Combined wireless power and data transfer supports a more efficient and effective environment for the sharing of information while adding a new dimension to viewing and interpreting data.
Vehicle transportation will also become safer with wireless harnesses removing the need for complex wiring looms, and providing more reliable routing of power to key areas. Various surfaces within the car can be converted into wireless transmitters for the charging of a range of electronic devices. The same principle is applied to transport infrastructure on a grand scale. Transmitter pads and docks, integrated into roadways, intersections and carparks, provide an economical and environmentally optimal means to support the refuelling and recharging of the vehicle. And as in the home, charging can be managed remotely to optimize the amount and timing of power transfer, minimizing costs.
Even when flying, wireless power ensures a safer and less stressful journey. From the moment you step on the plane devices will be able to be charged from the relative comfort of your seat. When overseas, a unified standard for wireless charging across means that all essential electronics can be re-charged conveniently, without the pain of carrying, borrowing or buying cables and connectors.
As a leader in the innovation of resonant wireless power solutions across multiple environments, PowerbyProxi is looking forward to help reduce our reliance on the power cable and deliver accessible, pervasive wireless power to the world.
EMC radiation standards are used to qualify electronic devices against interference with other electronic devices. A piece of wire that has a current running through it will generate electric and magnetic fields – “H-field” emissions measure the magnetic component and “E-fields” emissions measure the electric component. EMC radiation standards ensure that these fields do not interact with other electronic devices to impair their operation.
EMC radiation standards were really designed to control and limit the amount of interference in long distance radio communication. The current standards regulating EMC radiation have been great at regulating these devices, however you now have a new type of electronic device that intentionally generates magnetic fields – those that use wireless power. Such electronic devices were never foreseen when these standards were written.
Consequently, there is one potential aspect of wireless power solutions (read more about wireless power here) which is not currently being regulated. This is the amount of electromotive force (EMF) that can be generated in a device which is in very close proximity. EMF is basically a fancy term for voltage! Electronics are sensitive to over-voltage (some more than others) and over-voltage can cause permanent damage to devices.
Sure there is a limit on how much “H-field” you can emit however these fields are typically measured using an antenna at a few meters or feet away from a device under test. The reading from the antenna and compliance to limits will not really tell you whether your shiny new smart-phone placed on your laptop’s wireless power supply is going to fail.
But hey at least your wireless power supply doesn’t mess with your FM radio…
When we talk about wireless power, one of the first design questions we consider is… “at what resonant frequency should the system transfer its power?”. Selecting the system’s resonant frequency helps increase the distance for power transfer and improves the efficiency of the wireless power solution. But what are the health implications? and are wireless charging products being accurately measured?
Resonant frequency refers to the frequency at which an object naturally vibrates or oscillates. It is at this frequency that objects are able to achieve their maximum amplitude – whereas it is difficult to get them to vibrate at other frequencies. In the case of inductive power transfer (IPT), the principle of resonance is applied to induce an electrical current between coils of the same frequency over greater distances.
Naturally the resonant frequency will depend on the problem or application, however there are other factors which influence this decision. As with all electronic products, the foremost issue is safety.
Usually safety is determined by how much radio frequency (RF) exposure can be applied without being harmful to human health. Guidleines do exist which provide reference to what are acceptable and safe limits of exposure…or so we think.
Most would consider the 1998 and the 2009 ICNIRP (International Council on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection) guidelines as a reference to those limits. Yet the guidelines lack any specific mention or reference to the behaviour of wireless power systems. What this means is that the “limits” identfied may not accurately apply to RF radiation created by wireless charging.
That is not to say that wirelss power systems operating under these guidleines are unsafe – electromagnetic fields created by this technology are considered to be at the lower end of the exposure spectrum. But surely more specific and conclusive measurements of IPT applications are required to understand the appropriate exposure limits?
Otherwise how do we know if limits are too harsh? (impacting the quality of solutions), or conversely, not harsh enough?