By the Blouin News Technology staff

A twist in the wireless power war

by in Enterprise Tech.

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 18:  People charge their cell phones at a free solar-powered charging station set up by AT&T at Brooklyn Bridge Park on June 18, 2013 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. Twenty-five solar-powered charging stations are being set up in parks, beaches and other spaces throughout New York City as part of the AT&T pilot project. The towers can accommodate six devices at a time with dedicated ports for iPhones, BlackBerrys and Androids, regardless of the wireless carrier.  (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Getty Images/John Moore

Wireless charging technology has more politics behind it than most would imagine: there are consortiums that own different standards for the electronic processing of wireless chargers of which various tech giants are members. Qualcomm founded the Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP) which rivals the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC), but this week has announced that it is joining the board of the WPC — a move some think could spell the end of fragmentation of wireless charging standards.

Of course Qualcomm’s joining of the WPC is just another added voice to the board of companies working to govern the standard and oversee device compliance, but the fact that Qualcomm helped to create the A4WP standard and is now throwing weight onto the growth of its opposite number raises some questions on the progress of a global wireless power standard. The company told the EE Times that it plans on bringing “its expertise in resonant wireless power” to the WPC as the consortium looks towards developing charging technology that is similar to A4WP’s standard.

The WPC’s current standard is called Qi and it has grown in popularity such that its technology was approved for in-car use and some cars now include Qi charging capabilities. (Mercedes joined recently, and revealed it will be issuing Qi-compatible cars in 2014.) The competition from A4WP comes in the form of the big-name tech companies that are support A4WP — Samsung and Intel are just two. While it is unlikely that one standard will be dropped in favor of the other any time soon, Qualcomm’s support for WPC does hint at some sort of future unification of the power standards.

Regardless of the political implications of Qualcomm’s forthcoming participation in the WPC, the wireless power industry itself faces challenges with the sheer numbers of wireless devices proliferating around the world. As the largest mobile chip maker, Qualcomm obviously has an interest in how the wireless power scene unfolds, and which standard becomes the dominant technology for charging billions of mobile devices.