Wireless charging to reach PCs, tablets next year

Wireless charging will be common in laptops in a few years, much like wireless comunications are today, Intel says

Wireless charging will reach PCs next year, and laptops will be able to recharge when placed on tables, pads or surfaces supporting power delivery, according to an Intel executive

In other words, laptop users won't have to carry power bricks, said Kirk Skaugen, senior vice president and general manager of Intel's PC Client Group. Skaugen spoke during a webcast keynote Friday at the IFA trade show in Berlin.

In a few years, wireless charging will be common in PCs, much like wireless communications are today, Skaugen said, adding that users will be able to charge mobile devices and PCs at the same time.

"This is a big, big deal. In the next several years you will see hundreds of thousands of charge stations," Skaugen said. "Intel's desire is that wireless charging evolve from wearable to the phone to the tablet to the PC."

Intel is developing circuitry required for wireless charging in laptops. PC makers like Dell, Lenovo, Asus and Panasonic are backing the idea, and more are expected to offer wireless charging in PCs, Skaugen said.

Intel is backing wireless technology from a standards organization called A4WP (Alliance for Wireless Power), whose magnetic resonance technology turns surfaces like tables into wireless charging stations. Intel is developing circuitry for 20 watt to 50 watt wireless charging, which won't be enough to recharge power hungry large-screen and gaming laptops but will suffice for general-use computers.

A4WP has more than 100 members, with some prominent names among them, including Qualcomm and Samsung.

Wireless charging is part of Intel's larger plan to free PCs of wire clutter. Intel is working on technologies to eliminate cables for keyboards, mice, monitors and external hard drives.

For example, Intel next year will ship a docking station based on WiGig wireless technology, which will be able to stream 4K images wirelessly to high-definition displays. WiGig is 10 times faster in wireless data transfers than 802.11n, and three times faster than the latest 802.11ac, according to Skaugen.

The WiGig dock could eliminate the need to plug HDMI or DisplayPort cables into laptops. The dock will provide USB 3.0-like data transfer speeds to external storage devices.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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