Wireless charging has been under development for years but its adoption has yet to take off. However, consumer demand for wireless charging can be expected to escalate with IoT and mobile devices becoming more widespread. Especially when people get to experience how convenient it is, user habits will change and wireless charging will ignite tremendous business opportunities.
The world now looks forward to wireless charging particularly as Apple has recently joined Wireless Power Consortium amid rumors of whether next generation iPhones will feature wireless charging.
Established in 1997, Microtips focused on the development of digital media testing products, including effectors, sound effect makers and audio mixers, at the early stage. Having accumulated years of R&D experience in digital signal processor technology, Microtips started to make a transition a few years ago. It has spent three years collaborating with Qualcomm to develop wireless charging solutions and has begun shipments of wireless charging products to handset and tablet makers this year.
Devoted to R&D of wireless charging, Microtips joins AirFuel Alliance
When it comes to wireless charging, we should first take a look at the dominating technologies. The wireless charging industry currently focuses on two types of technologies - magnetic induction, also known as the Qi standard, and magnetic resonance (MR). Originally there were three major industrial alliances driving the development of these technologies: the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC) established in 2008; and the Power Matters Alliance (PMA) and Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP), both established in 2012. PMA and A4WP merged and formed the AirFuel Alliance (AFA) in 2015.
As a member of the AirFuel Alliance, Microtips has obtained licensed technology from Qualcomm to develop MR wireless charging products. Steven Lu, CEO/president, Microtips, pointed out that when evaluating the two technologies, they found the better known magnetic induction is used more for short range transmission with the advantage of low costs but it is more susceptible to influence by distance and powering multiple devices at a time is hard to achieve. In comparison, magnetic resonance enables a charging distance of 4cm to 5cm and a higher charging wattage. The charging plate can be embedded in wood or plastic and allows one-to-many charging. Therefore, eying its future growth potential, Microtips decided to adopt the MR technology to develop Microtips' AIRON wireless charging products.
Microtips is launching AIRON wireless charging products after two years of R&D
Since obtaining the license for Qualcomm's MR technology three years ago, the Microtips team has spent two years on product R&D and successfully developed software, firmware and integrated solutions, particularly Bluetooth communication between the transmitter and the receiver and the power flow management of the wireless charging module, which are expert MR know-hows barring followers from entering the market. Microtips is officially launching its wireless charging brand AIRON this year. In addition to efficiency, safety is also critical to wireless charging so AIRON has obtained safety certifications from the authorities, including FCC, CE, NCC (Taiwan), and SRRC (China), stated Chung-Da Yang, sales and marketing, vice president, Microtips.
Microtips chose MR also for its high transmission frequency up to 6.78MHz, wide operating temperature range between -20 degrees C and 55 degrees C, and charging wattage going from 10 W to 16W and further to 33W. MR wireless charging powers smartphones, tablets and two-in-one notebooks and can expand to support other electronic devices requiring higher wattages. AIRON features a wireless charging plate that can simultaneously power multiple devices based on the charging area and output power without needing proper alignment. Simply place devices in the charging area and charging will begin.
Furthermore, the AIRON wireless charging plate can keep the battery at a high power level to minimize the chance of battery failure. The casing is manufactured with high quality fireproof and heat-resistant materials. There are also built-in protective circuits safeguarding the device being charged and the transmitter from short circuit and voltage, current and temperature exceeding the safe range. The design of AIRON emphasizes safety so concerns about overheating resulting in damage to the battery or device or even fire are eliminated.
Leading the development of a joint platform, Microtips builds a wireless charging ecosystem
The establishment of a common standard and wide availability at public places will be the key to the popularity of wireless charging. Most of the products on the market have focused on the first generation wireless charging technology where the power supplying equipment and the device being charged must be closely and precisely aligned. Such inconvenience has resulted in poor user experience and negative impression. Now AIRON is aimed to bring a change for better user experience. In terms of placement at public spaces, Microtips has set up over 100 AIRON wireless charging sites, including the City Hall and museums of New Taipei City.
Lu indicated that to build a complete wireless charging ecosystem in Taiwan and to drive booming development of the wireless charging industry, equipment suppliers, system integrators, software developers and cloud service providers have to undergo large-scale consolidation. Microtips is hoping to establish itself as a provider of total solutions, providing hardware to equipment suppliers and platforms to system integrators and software developers.
Microtips hopes to become the platform that provides a backend system to app developers and an interface for online business start-ups to reach their target customers. Besides joining upstream and downstream vendors in the supply chain, more importantly, Big Data analytics is leveraged to conduct market education and capture Big Data opportunities arising from analyzing consumer habits. Wireless charging is needed at a range of public places, such as retail stores, tourist attractions and places of entertainment. When consumers' charging information is recorded along with the places they frequently visit and their favorite coffee shops, such consumer information is collected and analyzed and can be used for the purpose of precision marketing when combined with Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and Beacon. The world can expect more new business models to arise from wireless charging.
Microtips introduces its new wireless charging product AIRON, developed based on the MR technology. The charging plate allows one-to-many charging.