Qualcomm's wireless power technology allows for pad-free charging

Qualcomm starts shipping test equipment for a wireless charging standard released by Alliance for Wireless Power in January

If Qualcomm's vision becomes a reality, users will be able to wirelessly recharge smartphones and tablets without placing them in direct contact with charging pads.

The chip maker has started shipping test equipment that allows phones to be charged by placing them millimeters away from a wireless power source. A wireless charging source could placed behind a wall, under a table or inside furniture, and multiple devices can be placed on any surface and still be charged from the installed wireless power source.

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Today, most wireless charging requires placing a phone directly on a charging pad, which needs to be placed flat on a surface. Smartphones from companies like Samsung, LG, and Nokia support that form of wireless charging.

"This would mean retail establishments wanting to add wireless power need to either install new furniture with the technology pre-installed, or physically alter existing furniture, which can be both costly and messy," wrote Geoff Gordon, senior manager, of product marketing at Qualcomm, in a blog entry.

Qualcomm calls the wireless charging technology WiPower, and said charging sources derived from the technology fit easily in or around any surface without any modifications. The company said devices can be placed up to 45 millimeters from a wireless charging station.

The test equipment comes in the form of an evaluation kit, which is being shipped only on a limited basis, Qualcomm said.

WiPower is based on a specifications released by Alliance for Wireless Power in January this year. Samsung and Qualcomm were among the founder companies of Alliance for Wireless Power, which was established in May last year.

A lot of the wireless charging technology in phones today is based on the Qi specification created by Wireless Power Consortium, which has 136 member companies. Another organization, called The Power Matters Alliance (PMA), is working on a wireless power specification called Power 2.0 and boasts Vint Cerf as its honorary chairman. Alliance for Wireless Power has 39 members, while PMA has 69 member companies.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's email address is agam_shah@idg.com.

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