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Wireless power groups join forces: One spec to rule them all

PMA and A4WP agree to play together

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Two competing wireless power organizations have signed a pact to play nicely with each other in an attempt to defeat their bigger rival.

On Tuesday the Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP) and Power Matters Alliance (PMA) signed a deal for interoperability between their two very different standards for charging devices without a power cable. The third player, and by far the most widely used charging group with its Qi standard, the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC) will now face tougher competition, the signatories hope.

"We have listened and acted very deliberately to the overwhelming voice of the industry to simplify rollout of wireless charging technology and bring more alignment within the ecosystem. These two organizations are taking the necessary steps to get the job done." said Ron Resnick, president of the Power Matters Alliance.

"Combining the standards from A4WP and PMA offer the best choices of core technologies and managed network services, delivering to consumers a seamless, easy-to-use and convenient wireless charging user experience."

Well, up to a point, since the two groups used different powering methods. PMA uses inductive charging to charge one device at a time, whereas the A4WP's Rezence standard uses magnetic resonance to power up multiple devices from a single power pad.

Under the terms of the deal the PMA has agreed to use Rezence as its standard when it begins building magnetic-resonant charging hardware. In return, the A4WP will use the PMA's inductive kit on its systems, and the two groups will collaborate on a shared open network API for network services management.

"This announcement delivers a compelling message for the industry to commit and deliver wireless charging devices now," said Kamil Grajski, president of A4WP. "Between the organizations, A4WP and PMA membership consists of the key players necessary to drive industry consolidation and establish a commercially viable globally interoperable wireless charging ecosystem."

Meanwhile the WPC, which uses inductive charging similar to that of the PMA, and is developing magnetic-resonant systems, is left on its own. But the WPC does have the lead on its competition in getting kit out to market, so holds an early lead over the competition.

For consumers, however, the new deal will bring little good news in the short term. It now looks likely that there will be an extended standards war until the two power blocs either agree to interoperate or one side wins a commanding lead among buyers. There's certainly demand for wireless power, but no one wants to end up on the losing side, so don't bin those cords just yet. ®

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