Wireless Charging Gets Huge Jolt From Intel's Partnership With WiTricity

Intel and wireless charging pioneer WiTricity inked a deal Wednesday that could finally get the struggling technology of cord-free charging off the ground and into millions of laptops, tablets and a bevy of other Intel mobile devices.

As part of the deal, WiTricity will work with Intel to integrate its WiTricity Rezence technology into an undisclosed number of Intel devices. Rezence technology uses magnetic resonance for short-range wireless charging. The technology competes with induction-based wireless charging, which requires devices be placed directly on a pad for charging. Allowing short-range wireless charging opens the door for devices to be recharged via embedded transmitters in desks and walls.

"WiTricity is excited about the possibilities created through our agreement with Intel, a leader in mobile computing for both consumers and businesses," said WiTricity CEO Alex Gruzen in a statement. "We look forward to helping Intel enable the industry to create a new generation of wirelessly powered devices."

[Related: System Builders Ask Intel: Where Is Our Future? ]

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Joe Lore, sales director at Sunnytech, an Intel and Lenovo partner based in Woburn, Mass., said the WiTricity and Intel partnership could drive the next big thing in mobile computing. Wireless charging has struggled because it has lacked standards and the type of scale and reach needed to make it a mainstream technology, he said.

Wireless charging, especially in the enterprise, has the potential to drive new laptop and tablet sales and would give SunnyTech a competitive advantage over the competition, said Lore.

So far, no major PC maker has committed to building a laptop with wireless charging capabilities. However, the Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP) recently updated its Rezence charging standard to support laptops, tablets and electronics requiring up to 50 watts. A number of laptop makers have recently joined the A4WP, including Dell and Lenovo. Other members include Fujitsu, Samsung, Panasonic and many more.

According to WiTricity's Kaynam Hedayat, vice president of product management and marketing, the cost of adding the technology will be nominal.

"We believe 2014 and 2015 will be breakthrough years for this technology," Hedayat said in an interview with CRN. He said the wireless charging sector has struggled for years because of competing standards by rival standards bodies. "With Intel's support behind A4WP we have bridged an important divide for this technology's growth," Hedayat said. He added that competing groups Wireless Power Consortium and Power Matters Alliance have adopted the Rezence near-field resonant technology standard.

"At Intel, we have a vision to eliminate all wires from all of our platforms. This agreement is a major step in the right direction, enabling our companies to work together to deliver the next generation of devices that eliminate the need for power cords," said Sanjay Vora, Intel vice president and general manager of user experience, in a statement.

According to reports from the Computex trade show last week, Intel demonstrated wireless charging technology (dubbed WiGig) using a laptop and told news outlets that it would be implementing the standard in laptops in 2016 in conjunction with the release of its upcoming Skylake platform.

The price premiums for WiTricity technology in Intel devices, the integration timeline and the OEM hardware partners have not been disclosed.