Intel developing chipsets to allow laptops to wirelessly charge mobile devices
August 30, 2012
Wireless charging technology is quickly gaining attention from many mobile device manufacturers, and with good reason. Eliminating the need for a charging cable would offer a huge convenience across the board, and some of the products on the market like LG’s WPD-800 and the Powermat have already drawn quite a bit of attention. Now Intel has stepped up to announce plans for a new technology that will not only allow one mobile device to be charged by another with a built-in charger (such as a laptop), but also won't require the two devices even be touching to do so. Along with Integrated Device Technology, Inc. (IDT), Intel hopes to develop a chipset by early 2013 that will charge a smartphone through a laptop that sits a short distance away.
Intel has been tinkering around with the concept of laptop-to-phone wireless charging since 2008, but teaming up with IDT is a big step towards bringing that technology to consumers. Both companies have stressed the importance of reducing the size and cost of wireless charging as much as possible so it can be easily integrated into consumer products. IDT already has some experience in this department, having developed a single-chip wireless transmitter and receiver in the past.
One thing that separates this planned system from most other wireless charging systems out there is the way the energy is transferred between two points. Most wireless chargers available now transmit power through induction (i.e. physical contact between the device and charger), while the planned chipset will transmit power through resonance inductive coupling. It is so named because it involves transmitting electrical energy between two coils that are tuned to resonate at the same frequency.
Because the receiving coil can pick most of the energy even from distance away, the two devices can sit an inch or so apart without breaking the connection. Intel certainly isn't the first company to produce such technology, but it could be among the earliest to incorporate it into a home consumer device. With more development though, it's becoming more and more conceivable that future versions of the technology could allow for power-sharing between almost any electronic device over a much wider distance.
Intel has stated that it will begin referencing IDT's chipset in product designs as soon as it is completed in early 2013. The company is also working with other manufacturers on integrating the technology with other devices, like printers, cameras, and smartphone cases. So far, the company has not announced any specific consumer-ready gadgets that will use the new wireless charging technology, but has mentioned that the chipset will be aimed towards Ultrabooks, all-in-one PCs, smartphones, and standalone chargers.