ST plans designs for WiTricity’s AirFuel magnetic resonance specification as well as multi-mode solutions that incorporate both resonant and inductive charging. The AirFuel Alliance, which started in November last year from the merger of the Alliance for Wireless Power and the Power Matters Alliance, is based around magnetic resonance technology and is driving an interoperable ecosystem of wireless-charging Power Transfer Transmit Units (PTUs) and Power Receive Units (PRUs). However, this competes with the Wireless Power Consortium’s more established Qi specification.
The goal is to bring wireless charging to consumer electronics, Internet of Things (IoT) devices, as well as medical, industrial, and automotive applications. Earlier this year, WiTricity demonstrated an 11 kW wireless ‘park and charge’ system for electric vehicles, and is already working with ST on similar technology. WiTricity has also demonstrated wireless charging of laptops using the magnetic resonance technology.
The deal combines WiTricity’s foundational intellectual property and wireless power-transfer mixed-signal chip design expertise with ST’s power semiconductor design, fabrication, and packaging capabilities. ST also plans to add its wireless data communication technology to the chips.
For the consumer electronics and IoT markets, power transmit and receive systems built with these new semiconductors aim to deliver wireless fast charging of one or more devices at the same time, including metal-body smartphones, tablets, and smartwatches where induction charging is more of a challenge.
“Combining the expertise of WiTricity, the innovator in wireless power-transfer and magnetic resonance technology with ST’s resources and key IP, including Smart Power technologies and RF Bluetooth low energy, allows us to deliver complete, efficient wireless-charging solutions that increase convenience and ease of use while delighting consumers and exceeding their expectations,” said Matteo Lo Presti, Vice President and General Manager, Analog, in the Analog and MEMS Group at STMicroelectronics. “The technology from this ST and WiTricity collaboration will enable product designers across the globe to rid the world of cumbersome wires and charging cables and allow us to promote a broader set of our own semiconductor offerings into these emerging markets.”