Qi Group Announces Wireless Power Prototypes

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The Wireless Power Consortium has announced certified iPhone and BlackBerry chargers using the ‘Qi’ wireless power spec

The Wireless Power Consortium (WPC) has launched version 1.0 of its specification for charging handsets and other devices wirelessly, to be marketed under the name “Qi”, and has certified initial products for Blackberry and iPhone devices.

The product announcements come a year after the consortium announced version .95 of the spec. The products, including chargers for iPhone and BlackBerry devices, are to be demonstrated at a WPC meeting later this month.

Qi is based on inductive power transmission, already used in products such as the Touchstone charging dock used by the Palm Pre and the charging station for the Wii gaming console remote control. Such chargers allow a device to charge when placed on a flat surface or in a sleeve or dock. They eliminate the need for the connection of a metal contact connection, such as is found in standard cordless phone chargers.

‘Most’ mobile devices covered

The consortium, which includes Samsung, Sanyo, Olympus, Philips and Texas Instruments, aims to standardise inductive power charging technology so that chargers can be used with any device bearing the Qi logo. The specification is suitable for devices using up to 5 Watts of power, which the WPC said should cover “the majority of handheld mobile devices”.

“Qi can now be integrated into products. All ingredients for growing the market are now on the table,” said WPC chair Menno Treffers, in a statement.

Initial Qi-certified products are to include a charging sleeve for the iPhone 3GS and 3G and a charger for the Blackberry Curve 8900, both to be launched by Energizer this autumn. Sanyo, ST-Ericsson, National Semiconductor and others said they are working on Qi products.

Prototypes are to be demonstrated at a WPC meeting in Eindhoven, Netherlands, from 15 to 16 September. The WPC said it has now begun work on a wireless charging specification for devices requiring more power, including netbooks, laptops, tablet computers and power tools.

The consortium said it chose the brand Qi (pronounced “chee”) to refer to the concept of energy flow in traditional Chinese medicine, not the cult quiz show QI (for “quite interesting”) hosted by Stephen Fry on British TV.

The technology is less ambitious than the system demonstrated this summer by Witricity, which operates at a distance of a few metres, using resonance, which the company claims has green benefits through replacing disposable batteries.