WPC's Qi technology gets automotive support

The Wireless Power Consortium (WPC), gatekeeper of the Qi wireless charging technology standard, has announced two big new members which have swelled its ranks to a hundred in total - one of which will help fight off Qualcomm in the automotive sector.

The Qi - pronounced 'chee' - standard being pushed by the Wireless Power Consortium promises interoperability between vendors, and has attracted some big-name support from the likes of Energizer, HTC, Nokia, Philips, Samsung, Sanyo and the now wholly Sony-owned Sony Ericsson.

Using inductive charging technology, a Qi-enabled device can be topped up by simply sticking it on a Qi-enabled charging pad with no fiddly wires required. While the technology has yet to receive mass-market adoption, Qi products are already available for purchase to turn existing smartphones and other portable devices into wireless charging wonders.

The Wireless Power Consortium isn't without competition in this realm, however: communications giant Qualcomm has a rival, incompatible product dubbed WiPower in the works and claims it offers several advantages over Qi - a claim that WPC chair Menlo Treffers strongly rejects.

While the WPC seems to have a headstart in the battle for the consumer market, thanks to its vast selection of partners and licensees, there's a new market opening up: electric vehicles.

Qualcomm has already indicated its desire to beat the WPC to the punch, purchasing electric vehicle charging specialist HaloIPT in a multi-million dollar deal that will see the company position itself as a one-stop solution provider for in-car navigation, entertainment, communications, device and vehicle battery wireless charging systems.

The WPC isn't going to take that lying down, however: its latest member is Visteon, an automotive electronics expert which provides clients around the world with connectivity and vehicle control systems.

"We see a real opportunity for compatible wireless power in the automotive market," explains Visteon's Christian Feltgen. "We’re committed to integrating new wireless charging-enabled devices in automobiles, and look forward to progressing this expanding market."

Communications giant Huawei has also joined the consortium, as it works to establish itself as a household name for smartphones and tablets in the same way as the previously ODM-only HTC.

"Since Qi launched just 15 months ago, our membership has quickly accelerated to 100, with companies introducing new Qi products that have wide-ranging competitive designs and features," boasts the WPC's Camille Tang. "Consumer and OEM needs for convenience and design flexibility drive Qi's vibrant innovation roadmap, which delivers increasing product choices for people – whether at home, work, in the car, or when travelling at airports."

Clearly the battle between Qualcomm and the WPC is far from over.