Charging your mobile device wirelessly via a chip embedded into a Starbucks table or resting it on a surface inside your car could become more commonplace in the next year or so, thanks to the latest backing of a larger effort to make wireless charging more a part of everyday life.
It was announced on Monday at the 2013 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that 30 companies across the smartphone ecosystem are joining the Power Matters Alliance (PMA) organization, which consists of government leaders and major companies such as Starbucks, AT&T and Google working to get rid of cable-based charging plugs and embrace wireless power.
Smartphone case manufacturers such as Otterbox and chipset vendor Integrated Device Technology are among the new wave of companies backing the PMA, which was founded by Duracell's Powermat and its parent company Procter & Gamble and Powermat Technologies in March 2012.
"For wireless power to really transform our lives, a lot of things have to come together, from how companies make their products to public spaces deploying the right technology for charging," Daniel Schreiber, president of Powermat and Power Matters Alliance board member, told Mashable. "We are becoming so dependent on our mobile devices, and people want longer battery life. We want to tackle that issue, but we need manufacturers and companies to get on the same page."
With the most recent backing of Starbucks, Google and AT&T in October and existing support from Facebook, General Motors and Delta Airlines — which is already using wireless charging in its Sky Club lounges — more are looking to join in. In fact, after Starbucks announced it would introduce Duracell Powermat charging stations embedded into tables at 17 locations in Boston, PMA membership has skyrocketed, tripling in the past month alone.
"Eventually, we will reach a tipping point where it transforms from being cool to becoming an industry standard and expectation," Schreiber said.
Madison Square Garden has also embraced PMA wireless charging stations, as well as various salons, restaurants and airports across the U.S.
Among the new batch of companies joining include case makers Incipio and Skech, as well as APS Technologies, Diodes, Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), Everpurse, Foxlink, IGRS China, Leyden Energy, Microsemi, Microtips Technology, Monolithic Power Systems, MxMedia, NXT health, ON Semiconductor, Silicon laboratories, Telegesis, TennRich International and World Fair International.
"Wireless cases will be important for promoting this lifestyle, and this is where accessory manufacturers come into play," Schreiber said. "Duracell also has portable batteries for wireless charging and there are WiCC wireless charging cards that are insertable and could become embeddable. This is the start of the future."
However, the PMA has had its share of competition from other groups such as Wireless Power Consortium, which supports the Qi standard. The WPC has backing from heavy hitters too, including hardware companies such as Samsung, Motorola and HTC. But the rapid member growth of the PMA from both small and large companies indicates we might see more wireless charging of this nature.
"It's really important to create an ecosystem we can all get behind," Schreiber said. "It hasn't happened yet, but it's our hope and expectation we will all get there."
January 07, 2012