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Intel to launch resonance-based wireless charging technology for ultrabooks, smartphones by 2013

August 9, 2012

Tablets and smartphones are wireless, sure. But when you run out of battery, you’ll be scrambling to find your charger and a wall outlet to top up the device’s juice. As we increasingly become mobile, though, we want new ways to charge without necessarily being tethered to the wall or to a bigger device like a notebook computer.

Wireless charging technologies have existed for some time now, including the Powermat and a few other niche device-specific charging apparatuses. However, wireless charging has not yet met mainstream acceptance, mostly due to the limitations of such technologies and the attendant costs. For one, some solutions are compatible with certain phone models only, and will necessitate special cases. Another limitation is positioning. Inductive charging will require that you position the phone a certain way, atop an inductive mat.

Short of wearing batteries on our clothes — which may be possible in the near future, too — wireless charging may just be around the corner. Intel is reportedly working toward bringing wireless charging technologies to mainstream use by 2013 in ultrabooks, DigiTimes reports. Upstream supply chain sources cited say Intel is working on a resonance-based technology to achieve this.

The concept will involve charging the mobile phone from an Intel ultrabook using a combination of a wireless transmitter and related software. Intel claims this will not result in a significant power draw from the ultrabook, and will not require the phone to be positioned in a special way.

The included software will let the user control certain functions, such as positioning tests, charging control, and diagnostics.

To date, wireless charging technologies have been quite expensive. For instance, NTT DoCoMo and Sharp have developed smartphones that meet the Wireless Power Consortium‘s Qi standard, although high prices can be a barrier. But efforts are being done to bring down costs and improve the usability of the technology. Take for instance the Fulton eCoupled wireless charging technology introduced at CES. This concept involves charging a device everytime the user slips it inside a handbag.

Intel wants users to be able to charge smartphones just by placing them within the vicinity of a notebook computer. No mats, no cases, no special positioning needed. It’s just a matter of having device manufacturers support the resonance-base charging technology.

Sources say Intel’s upcoming Haswell platform is not likely to fully support the technology, but a few ultrabook models may support wireless charging by second half of 2012. Once wireless charging becomes mainstream, we might just soon be ditching our power cables altogether.