Wireless power alliance, with 195 vendors, takes new name

Two groups and their 195 vendors are banding together to develop far-field charging, which can send an electrical charge up to 30 feet away

powermat wireless charging

Phones charging on Powermat wireless chargers in a Starbucks coffee shop.

Credit: Powermat

Two of the three wireless charging consortiums today announced they are putting a name to their previously announced merger, which brings 195 member vendors under one umbrella.

The Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP) and the Power Matters Alliance (PMA) will now be called the AirFuel Alliance.

The AirFuel Alliance, whose members include AT&T, Samsung and Intel, are pitted against the largest of the wireless charging groups, the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC), which has 222 members. WPC, which champions the Qi wireless charging standard, includes members such as LG, Sony and Verizon.

The AirFuel Alliance also has Duracell Powermat among its members, which claims it has more than 1,500 charging spots in the U.S., and through Duracell Powermat's partnership with PowerKiss has 1,000 charging spots in European airports, hotels and cafes. AirFuel has also announced wireless charging at some McDonald's restaurants.

"AirFuel is an ideal descriptor for what this organization promises today and in the years to come," Mani Parmar, vice president of business development at Duracell Powermat, said.

In 2014, the A4WP and the PMA agreed to adopt each other's specifications for different types wireless of charging. The A4WP-developed "Rezence" magnetic resonant wireless charging specification allows for a loosely coupled power transfer -- meaning that multiple devices can be placed on a charging pad and can be moved around with little affect to the charge.

Before the merger, the PMA had championed a magnetic inductive wireless charging technology that requires a more tightly coupled link between the charger and device. The PMA also developed an open network API for network services management.

In 2015, the A4WP and PMA announced a formal merger; the A4WP and the PMA agreed to adopt each other's specifications for different types wireless of charging.

The AirFuel Alliance, operating as a unified organization since June, said it has fully integrated its teams and committees. In October, the alliance hosted the world's first joint inductive and resonant plugfest, where 14 companies tested over 40 receivers and transmitters to gauge compliance and commercial acceptance.

The AirFuel Alliance will continue to support both inductive and resonant magnetic wireless charging standards in multimode systems. The group said it is also developing technologies that "go beyond the use of magnetics" through its Uncoupled Power Working Group.

For example, the working group is advancing development of far-field wireless power transfer, a technology from member Energous Corp. and its WattUp technology, which it claims can deliver a charge from up to 15 feet away from the transmitter.

"AirFuel technology is the next step in fast-tracking the commercialization of wirelessly charged products," Ron Resnick, president of AirFuel Alliance, said in a statement. "We embrace a new, inclusive ideal of wireless charging and those member companies within AirFuel Alliance are energized towards bringing wireless power products to consumers globally."

After "a suitable grace period," the brands associated with the former A4WP and PMA identities will be retired, the groups said. From that point, certified products will carry the AirFuel name and logo.

This story, "Wireless power alliance, with 195 vendors, takes new name" was originally published by Computerworld.