Powermat Technologies, a company that makes and installs wireless charging pads for businesses, has updated its products to work with standards from the Airfuel Alliance, one of two major organizations that promote wireless power standards. Its charging pads will be compatible with both inductive and resonant wireless charging products certified by the Airfuel Alliance.
These updates come as manufacturers attempt to make wireless charging less dependent on whether someone has the right smartphone or charging pad. Powermat also makes wireless charging "rings" that plug into smartphones without the correct hardware for wireless charging (like iPhones). Presumably, these rings will now also work Airfuel Alliance standards.
The Airfuel Alliance was founded when two of the three major wireless charging standard bodies—the Power Matters Alliance (PMA) and the Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP)—merged last year. The former supported a kind of magnetic induction that required devices to lay flat on a charging pad. Meanwhile, the A4WP promoted resonant charging, which can send power over distance of a few inches.
Following the merger, the Airfuel Alliance vowed to combine the wireless charging standards into one technology that could charge devices both ways. The idea was to create a rival technology to the Qi standard developed by the Wireless Power Consortium, which supports a version of magnetic induction. Manufacturers would only have to choose between two standards, not three, and that could help the technology become more accessible.
The merger marked what many thought would be a shift toward more products that could be charged without wires. That idea was bolstered by the large number of companies that came together around the Airfuel Alliance. Duracell, Powermat Technologies, Flextronics, AT&T, and Starbucks had been PMA members, while Qualcomm, Samsung, and Broadcom served on the A4WP board of directors. Earlier this year, the Airfuel Alliance gained worldwide regulatory approval for its new certification program, which combines both their inductive and resonant standards.
Powermat is now working with these companies to make wireless charging faster and more convenient. Partnering with Semtech, an analog and mixed-signal chipmaker, it's upgrading its charging pads to support Samsung Wireless Fast Charge, which is built into the Korean company’s Samsung Galaxy 6 and Galaxy Note 4 smartphones. In some cases, fast charging can fill 50% of a smartphone battery in about 30 minutes.
Powermat's latest charging pads, which are connected to the cloud, will get software updates to support devices with Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0 capabilities. This technology is found in new devices from Motorola, ZTE, HTC, Sony, and Samsung, among others. Powermat is also working with Airfuel Alliance to advance resonant technologies, working on chipsets that can also connect to Powermat’s cloud.