Intel has thrown in with the Alliance for Wireless Power, joining the Samsung and Qualcomm founded standards group pushing cable-free recharging for phones, tablets, laptops, and other devices. Taking a place on the A4WP board of directors, the group confirms [pdf link], Intel will be pushing for wireless power in ultrabooks and other mobility devices its chips are found inside, potentially opening the door to a desk that can one day rejuice your phone, slate, and your notebook, simply by placing them on top of it.
“Intel believes the A4WP specification, particularly the use of near-field magnetic resonance technology, can provide a compelling consumer experience and enable new usage models that
make device charging almost automatic” Intel VP Navin Shenoy said of the processor company’s decision to join the group. The firm will look to help develop hardware good for “simultaneously charging a range of devices, from low-power accessoriesto smartphones, tablets and ultrabooks.”
That flexibility in providing different levels of power to different devices at the same time is part of what the A4WP claims makes its standards special. It’s part of what the group describes as “spatial freedom” for recharging: a single surface on which many devices can be placed haphazardly, with no requirement for the user to select the right spot for the right sort of gadget, or change any settings.
Instead, each device would use Bluetooth Low Energy (4.0) to communicate its requirements with the charging surface. That would require no initial pairing, and simply be done automatically. The A4WP also envisages an augmented reality system where users of devices with screens and cameras could hold up their phone, tablet, notebook or something else and see an overlay of potential charging points.
Qualcomm and Samsung founded the Alliance for Wireless Power back in May 2012, and the group now includes Broadcom, LG, TI, and more. The specification the group cooked up is a relatively spartan one, by design; those manufacturers wanting to comply need only ensure the interfaces and model of transmitter resonator meet the standards, with flexibility to choose whatever combination of hardware they wish to do that.
So far, wireless charging has seen some limited success in the market, though generally has been limited to smaller devices like smartphones. Nokia, for instance – not a member of the A4WP – has offered the functionality on many of its Lumia Windows Phones, while Samsung has made halfhearted pushes with adapters for its high-end Galaxy handsets.
Pushing into laptops and ultrabooks, however, could significantly increase its reach, especially as such devices are commonly used in the same place – on a desktop, either at home or in the workplace – for extended periods. No word on when we could see the first wireless charging ultrabooks on store shelves, however, but Intel did say last year that the first examples could show up as early as this year.