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Qi standard is for more than just smartphones

Bill Amelio, Avnet CEO

And we should know – our tech helped shape it

By Bill Amelio, Avnet CEO

I’m not alone in my suspicion that the engineering world will soon follow a singular standard for wireless charging: the Qi standard. I think it would be the right move—and its impact would extend far beyond the charging of mobile phones.

AVID, an Avnet company, has been actively supporting the development of the Qi standard for nearly a decade as a member of the Wireless Power Consortium. Not only have Avnet’s experienced engineers demonstrated its advantages, but Apple’s selection of the Qi wireless charging standard for its latest iPhone has attracted more attention to Qi.

If you’re not yet familiar with it, wireless charging replaces the mini USB and lightning cords that charge mobile products with a coil inside the device that pulls power from a charging pad. Qi wireless charging does this without some of the issues other standards face around temperature or unreliable compatibility with the wide variety of devices in today’s mobile marketplace.

Though it would be no small feat to gain industry-wide commitment to a single wireless charging standard, the greatest impact of this potential unification may well be the industries that are expected to take shape as a result of its technology.

The wide-ranging impact of wireless charging

The wireless charging market could reach up to $22.25 billion in the next five years, spanning far past the charging pads that power wireless charging for mobile devices today. Companies that have more experience with hardware design are jumping in to wireless charging for mobile devices in applications ranging from healthcare to autonomous driving, military and aerospace.

What’s more, wireless charging is set to disrupt industries that can be much more “low tech,” including furniture and hospitality. IKEA is already building furniture with wireless capabilities and Marriott added wireless charging to its lobbies years ago. As others in their industry look to catch up, we’ll likely see some interesting developments in the application of wireless charging technology and perhaps even its effects on aesthetic design. But what really has me charged up about Qi?

Its applications beyond mobile devices:

  • Metal and water don’t usually mix, but water filtration systems need power to run. So avoiding traditional metal contact in favor of wireless charging can create new opportunities for these systems.
  • Hospitals can benefit from technology that charges on smooth, sealed surfaces that are easy to disinfect.
  • BMW is integrating wireless charging technology as a supplement for cord charging its electric cars next year. While BMW isn’t currently using Qi, the technology could evolve over time to support similar applications.

Prepare for that $22 billion market to get even bigger.

What’s next for engineers

It’s an exciting time for engineers to dive headfirst into revolutionizing the charging landscape. But with new technology comes new challenges.

It’s essential for in-house engineers and bench testers to have strong testing tools to help validate your designs. Many of these are available, varying in price from lower cost handheld testers to Qi certified testing systems. For those looking for a hardware expert partner to bring their Qi solution to life, be sure to find providers capable of offering solutions that span the entire technology lifecycle: design, make, supply, deliver and maintain.

We’ve seen firsthand how wireless charging applications can take off. For example, we helped create an early wireless charging mat for automotive center consoles. Programs like these, and the lessons learned through them, have been instrumental in building the foundation for the Qi standard in the many different industry sectors interested in adopting wireless charging. We’re all in on Qi. Are you?


Cell phone on wireless charging pad


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