Aftermarket In-Car Qi Heats Up

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Brandmotion Qi Charging

In-car wire-free charging is a budding technology trend that may have some benefits for the aftermarket.

Smartphones are starting to offer built-in Qi wireless charging so they may work with  a charging pad in the car.  Drivers then need only place the phone on the pad to charge the device wire-free.

Both Audiovox and Brandmotion began shipping wireless charging devices for the car this month; both using the Qi (pronounced “chee”) wireless standard, which has been the most popular to date.

A Qi charging pad has an inductive coil that creates an alternating electromagnetic field.  A smartphone, sitting on the pad has a receiving coil that picks up the field and converts it to energy that can charge the battery.

Audiovox Qi crade
Audiovox Qi charging cradle for the car

At least 36 smartphones offer either built-in Qi charging or work with wireless charging cases.  (See listing below this story).

Audiovox began shipping this month the Qi charging add-on car cradle it first showed at CES last January. The $99 device works with just about any phone that has Qi charging.  It contains a charging pad with multiple coils (so the phone can move around a bit and it will still charge). You slip the device in the cradle and it charges without wires.

Audiovox is also testing prototypes of car specific charging pads that might be added by an installer to fit into a console of the car, for instance.

Brandmotion introduced at the SEMA show this month, custom car Qi charging pads that currently work in a few leading vehicles (see top photo).  The new line is called “Freedom Charge.”

Brandmotion President Jeff Varick said it went the custom car route to avoid the dash clutter of a plug-in device. Each of its three custom charging pads includes a plate that is cut to integrate into an existing center console or storage tray, depending on the car.  The custom kit is then hard-wired into the car’s electrical system for a custom look. It works with either the late-model Ford Fusion (part No. 6000-1020), Toyota Camry (part No. 6000-1030) and Dodge Ram (part No. 6000-1040).

Audiovox’s cradle plugs into the cigarette lighter and then cradles your phone so that it can charge as you drive, without any additional wires. And because it is wireless, the dock may be placed in numerous locations around the dash.

Audiovox Electronics President Tom Malone said consumers are gradually becoming more aware of wireless charging.  “Wireless charging is going to be a very strong item.  Prices are coming down and it will be available in home and office solutions.  People will be able to walk into a restaurant and have a spot on the table with Qi charging to charge their phone.  People want the product.”

Tom Malone
Audiovox Electronics President Tom Malone

Malone noted that car audio specialists who are setting up connected car displays will want to include wireless charging.  When a salesman approaches a customer and asks what type of phone he has, he can say, “your phone is compatible, we can mount it in your car….Customers are coming in for solutions to how their phone can operate in a vehicle, so why wouldn’t wireless charging ” be a technology that would interest them?

The total wireless charging market is expected to grow by over 57 percent (CAGR) a year from 2012 to 2017, reaching over $7 billion says MarketsandMarkets research.  More than 18 million Qi products are being used worldwide said  The Wireless Power Consortium which supports the Qi standard.

Malone expects to see “a considerable amount” of Qi charging products at CES.

In September, the Qi format for wireless charging got a boost when the Consumer Electronics for Automotive (CE4A) group that includes Audi, BMW, Daimler, Porsche, and Volkswagen announced support for it and Mercedes Benz announced it would include Qi charging in its 2014 vehicle lineup

Two other wireless formats include the Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP) and Power Matters Alliance (PMA) which supports the Powermat standard.  Powermat is used in Starbucks locations and in airports and other public places. The A4WP standard received a boost in October when it aligned with the Bluetooth SIG with the aim of embedding wireless charging in all devices  using the new Bluetooth Smart radio standard.

But almost all the car makers to announce a wireless charger to date have opted for the Qi standard. Jeep will offer Qi wireless charging in the 2014 Cherokee and Toyota will offer Qi charging in the 2014 Prius and  Toyota was first to offer Qi charging in the 2013  Avalon as an option.

 

Devices with out-of-the-box, fully integrated Qi:

  1. HTC Droid DNA
  2. HTC 8X
  3. LG Spectrum 2
  4. Google Nexus 4
  5. Nokia Lumia 920
  6. Nokia Lumia 928
  7. Motorola Droid Maxx by Verizon Wireless
  8. Motorola Droid Mini by Verizon Wireless
  9. Google Nexus 7* (First tablet with Qi wireless charging)
  10. Blackberry Z30
  11. LG G2 by Verizon Wireless
  12. Nokia Lumia 1520

 

Devices available with replaceable battery covers or accessory cases (sold separately):

  1. Kyocera Hydro ELITE
  2. Google Nexus 5
  3. Samsung Galaxy S3
  4. Samsung Galaxy S4
  5. Samsung Galaxy Note 2
  6. Nokia Lumia 1020
  7. Nokia Lumia 720
  8. Nokia Lumia 925
  9. Nokia Lumia 820
  10. Nokia Lumia 810
  11. Nokia Lumia 822
  12. LG Lucid 2
  13. LG Lucid 1
  14. LG Revolution
  15. LG Spectrum
  16. Blackberry8900
  17. iPhone 3G/3GS
  18. iPhone 4/4S
  19. HTC Thunderbolt
  20. HTC Droid Incredible
  21. Motorola Droid 3
  22. Motorola Droid 4
  23. Motorola Droid Bionic
  24. Samsung Droid Charge
  25. Droid Incredible 4G LTE
  26. HTC Rezound

 

Automobiles Qi wireless charging:

–       2013 Toyota Avalon (link)

–       2014 Jeep Cherokee (link)

–       Toyota Prius (link)

–       Ssanyong Chairman (link)

Source: CEoutlook

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