Samsung Electronics Co and IKEA both announced ambitious wireless charging plans at this week’s Mobile World Congress (MWC), in conjunction with the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC).
The WPC is an industry body which controls the Qi (PRON: Chee) wireless charging standard, currently powering 80 handsets and 15 cars on the market.
WPC spokesman Ryan Sanderson explained to Reuters how Qi works. “This is basically inducting charging, so it’s a charge that’s passed between two coils,” he said. “There’s a coil in a transmitter. So here’s an example. This would.....represent a surface, a bit of a table. There’s a coil in here and then there’s a coil in the receiver, so that could be built into a smartphone or a mobile device and when you put the two coils together there’s a handshake between the two using a bit of power management and that essentially allows the device to charge wirelessly.”
Samsung announced on Sunday (March 1) that their new Samsung S6 and S6 Edge models will feature the world’s first universally compatible embedded wireless charging technology in a phone.
According to Samsung’s UK & Ireland electronics president Andy Griffiths, “we are the first brand ever to introduce wireless charging that is built in. It is part of the product. We really get people a great charging experience, a great relationship with the battery of their smartphone.”
Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 edge will be launched globally on April 10.
Swedish furniture giants IKEA announced at the MWC in Barcelona their new range of wireless charging technology built directly into home furnishings, effectively turning bedside tables, lamps and desks into charging spots. USB outlets will allow additional devices to be charged simultaneously, while charging kits allow wireless charging to be built into existing furniture. Furniture with built-in wireless charging will cost an extra 20 euros (22 USD), with the wireless charging conversion kits priced at 30 euros (33 USD). The range goes on sale in Britain and North America in April.
Qi isn’t the only wireless charging standard and has fewer linked products than rival systems A4WP and PMA, but Sanderson says the tie-ups with Samsung and IKEA will help its presence grow. “IKEA, for example, another big announcement just over the last couple of days, they’re going to have a range of furniture of home accessories with wireless, Qi wireless charging built in,” he said. “So you’ll be able to enable your home, your home environment, there are now more than 15 models of car that have this built in, and there’s also a public infrastructure of more than 3,000 locations that all have Qi-enabled charging wireless charging within the location.”
The Qi standard can charge devices at a distance of four centimeters (1.6 inches) or below, meaning the phone must be positioned directly onto a specific spot marked by a ‘plus’ sign. Qi’s current specifications work only for low-power devices, but the WPC says its next generation could feed up to 2,000 watts wirelessly.