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Intel developing chipsets to allow laptops to wirelessly charge mobile devices


August 30, 2012

Intel has partnered with Integrated Device Technology, Inc. (IDT) to develop a chipset that will let mobile devices charge wirelessly from a laptop across a short distance

Intel has partnered with Integrated Device Technology, Inc. (IDT) to develop a chipset that will let mobile devices charge wirelessly from a laptop across a short distance

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.

Source: Intel, IDT

About the Author
Jonathan Fincher Jonathan grew up in Norway, China, and Trinidad before graduating film school and becoming an online writer covering green technology, history and design, as well as contributing to video game news sites like Filefront and 1Up. He currently resides in Texas, where his passions include video games, comics, and boring people who don't want to talk about either of those things. All articles by Jonathan Fincher

So you can use a not particularly efficient energy transfer system to move electricity from one battery to another. well I guess it must make sense to somebody.


Didn't Nikola Tesla have a similar idea around a century ago?

As I recollect, he was ridiculed and entirely discredited as a result.

Seems he might have been right after all.


I can see this being extremely useful, especially for those who lose their chargers, or break them with their fiddly tips (I'm looking at you, ancient nokia devices :-)), or who travel and need to take yet another device to plug in.

A lot of people use their laptops on power a lot of the time anyways, so being able to use that as a central hub for wirelessly charging devices certainly makes sense to me.

Paul Utry

Aww, when I first read about wireless power coming to laptops, I thought it meant they'd commercialized something like the 2m-range charger described at http://www.gizmag.com/go/7418/. How long will that take?

Chris Hennick
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