CES: Suddenly wireless charging is everywhere

Wireless Power Consortium shows off Toyota arm rests, desk lamps and speakers that can be used to charge 34 Qi-enabled smartphone models

LAS VEGAS - Vendors are showing off a slew of wireless charging products at the CES show here, products that range from a Toyota automobile armrest built to charge enabled smartphones to multi-phone charging pads to tablet chargers.

In all, 34 smart phone models are now enabled with wireless charging capabilities, said Bas Fransen, chief marketing officer for the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC). Some of the smartphones are already available, and others will be coming soon, he added.

At CES, Fransen demonstrated an armrest from Toyota that will use the Wireless Power Consortium's Qi (pronounced "chee") standard to charge an enabled phone such as the Nokia Lumia 920 or the HTC Droid DNA.

The armrest is due out in 2014 models that start shipping next month, Fransen said.

Toyota's Avalon armrest will include wireless charging

The new Toyota armrest will be able to wirelessly charge one phone at a time with up to 5 watts of power.

A close-up of Toyota's new armrest while charging a phone

Konica Minolta demonstrated a one-and-a-half foot tall desk lamp that doubles as a wireless induction charging pad. A Qi-compliant phone can be placed in a specified area on the lamp's base for charging charge.

The charging lamp sells for about $302.

JBL displayed a portable speaker that combines the Qi standard with NFC so that when a phone is placed on top of it, it both charges and plays music from it.

TDK also launched a portable speaker system that combines wireless charging with streaming music.

Fransen also showed off several next-generation devices based on the Qi 2.0 specification, which supports magnetic resonance charging pads that allow up to two devices to be charged simultaneously, and wireless charging chipsets that include near field communication (NFC) technology for data transfer.

JBL plans to release a mobile speaker based on the new NFC chip that can simultaneously charge and play music from enabled mobile devices.

Also due out within the year is a new thin, 5 millimeter charging pad.

A 15-watt wireless docking station that will be able to charge larger devices, such as a tablet is due out by mid-2013.

Currently, the Qi standard allows for devices to be charged with up to 5 watts of power. Fransen would not identify the manufacturers planning to sell 15-watt chargers.

Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian, or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed . His e-mail address is lmearian@computerworld.com.

Read more about mobile/wireless in Computerworld's Mobile/Wireless Topic Center.

Tags Mobile/WirelessNetworkingNokiasmartphoneswirelessJBLmobilemobile appsconsumer electronicshtcToyota

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