If the announcements at CES are any indication, a market for devices to charge your phone in the car without wires is heating up and could bring business to the car audio retail and OEM markets.
Besides Audiovox, which heralded wireless smartphone charging as a new growth area, Delphi and Toyota showed new wireless charging pads for the car in Las Vegas this month. And a new and improved charging format was announced to compete with the current wireless Qi (pronounced “chee”) standard.
With wireless charging you just slap your phone on top of a pad and it quickly powers up; so there’s no more dangling wires. But it requires that your smartphone has built-in technology to accommodate the feature.
Phones with built in Qi include the LG Google Nexus 4, Nokia Lumia 920 and HTC Windows Phone X and many more phones are expected to offer Qi this year.
But the Qi standard has some limitations. Your phone must sit directly on the charging pad. If the phone shifts while you drive, the charging stops.
Toyota announced before CES it will offer a Qi charging pad in the console of a 2013 Avalon Limited as part of a $1,750 optional package (that also includes advanced crash warning).
Audiovox Electronics will ship this summer a $70 Qi car charger cradle for the cup holder or a suction cup mount. And you may remember, Audiovox’s Tom Malone said eventually consumers will come to aftermarket installers to install charging pads in a console or glove box.
Delphi finds the Qi standard limited because of the need for a direct contact to the pad. So it showed at CES a prototype charging system using magnetic resonance. When one device is wirelessly charged on a pad it can radiate power to charge other devices in the car as well. See Delphi’s YouTube video here.
Also at CES a group called the Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP) created by Samsung and Qualcomm announced a new standard where the phone doesn’t have to directly touch the charging pad so you can stack your phone on top of your tablet to charge both devices (even though they may have different power requirements). Powermat and Texas Instruments are also part of the A4WP Alliance.
The technology also makes use of Bluetooth 4.0 LE so the device and the pad can communicate messages about when it’s time to stop or start charging. A certification process for this system could be in place by mid-year, said Engadget.
Then another group that includes Google, AT&T and Starbucks, called Power Matters Alliance (PMA) announced at CES that it now has 30 members. It is testing yet another system at some Boston Starbucks locations (with Powermat pads embedded in tables) and Delta Airlines has already installed charging ports in airports. General Motors is also planning to include PMA chargers, said Phys.Org and Duracell is also a member of the group.
Despite a budding format war, chip maker NXP might come up with a system to use all different standards, said Phys.org.