The AirFuel Alliance has released its wireless charging standard a few years after its inception
The confusion over wireless charging was slightly reduced several years ago when the Alliance for Wireless Power and the Power Matters Alliance merged to create the AirFuel Alliance. That industry shakeup meant that the Wireless Power Consortium, the group behind the Qi standard, was left with only one rival to beat. And it has done so successfully in the years since, owing to the AirFuel Alliance’s lack of a market-ready wireless charging standard, but that is changing today. The trade group has released the AirFuel RF standard for wireless power transfer.
Like the Qi standard, the new one from AirFuel can wirelessly transfer energy, though rather than being limited to a few centimeters, it can go up to a few meters using radio frequency waves. The new tech works by creating pockets of energy from which active devices can draw power. Regardless of where it is located, an energy source will be able to beam power from several feet away to multiple devices.
Xiaomi exhibited its own version of this technology in early 2021 with the Mi Air Charge, though it has yet to come to any commercial phone. However, wireless charging has been hamstrung by a lack of broader consumer adoption due to a number of factors, including the fact that wireless charging is significantly slower than wired charging.
AirFuel cites wearables and IoT sensors as ideal applications for RF tech due to their low power consumption. It also makes sense for the alliance to focus on these devices since they don’t require fast charging speeds like many of the best Android phones. This means removing cables from the equation for these systems is a no-brainer.
The group, meanwhile, hopes that the new standard will help spread wireless power technology to new markets and applications. A couple of AirFuel Alliance members, including Energous and Atmosic, will showcase the new RF standard at CES 2023 in Las Vegas this week.
With Qi more widespread, the industry is still a long way from reaching a consensus on how consumers wirelessly charge their devices. At present, the wireless charging methods promoted by both parties remain incompatible. So, while the AirFuel RF standard is a welcome development, don’t get rid of your fleet of Qi charging pads just yet.