Ina Fried

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Amid Standards Battle, Wireless Power Consortium Gets a New Ally

The battle over wireless charging is heating up.

With at least three different standards groups offering different ways to cut the cord, the early market leader is looking to boost its standing.

The Wireless Power Consortium, backer of the Qi (pronounced “chee”) standard, plans to announce on Monday that it has picked up PowerbyProxi as a member. Though not well known outside the charging world, PowerbyProxi has technology that allows for charging of multiple devices on one pad, and for more flexibility in how the device is placed.

Today’s Qi products have been limited on both fronts — key drawbacks seized on by its rival groups. Assuming that it can prove its technology to be compatible with the group’s existing products, PowerbyProxi could help evolve the Qi standard to be more flexible.

“We think that PowerbyProxi’s tech and expertise makes it possible to further innovate the Qi chargers and Qi phones to offer broader and wider freedom of positioning,” said Menno Treffers, head of the Wireless Power Consortium.

That’s important, because while Qi has been used in recent products such as the Nokia Lumia 920 and LG Optimus G and is an option on various new cars, some early backers of the standard have been looking at two alternate approaches. One is backed by the Power Matters Alliance, and the other by the Alliance for Wireless Power. The PMA, in particular, has interest from Starbucks, AT&T and Google, with HTC, Samsung and LG also joining last month.

The A4WP, meanwhile, is a bit further out, but has backing from Samsung and Qualcomm, among others.

Treffers said that the group is confident that its early adoption in products will win out, noting that what enabled Wi-Fi to win over other approaches was its adoption in products.

“We think the same thing will happen with wireless power,” Treffers said.

For its part, PowerbyProxi had been avoiding siding with any of the groups, but decided it could no longer afford to sit on the sidelines.

“What we don’t need is a lot of battle of technologies,” said PowerbyProxi VP Tony Francesca. “The market won’t happen for any of us.”

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