What does the Apple announcement mean for the wireless power industry?

In light of the recent news from Apple, the question is no longer what will they do, but now, what does this mean for the industry? Ryan Sanderson, CTO at Aircharge and one of this year's speakers recently spoke about what the Apple announcement means for the industry, and why this year’s Summit is especially important with the recent market developments.


1. How will the Apple announcement affect Aircharge specifically? And the industry as a whole?

As the leading provider of wireless charging solutions for public venues, this news is obviously very exciting. Traction to date for Aircharge hasn’t necessarily been hindered by the lack of integrated wireless charging in the iPhone as we have always closely followed Apple’s Made for iPhone (MFI) certification program with our Qi wireless charging accessories and unique bridging products which allow all consumers to charge wirelessly. This announcement will however undoubtedly inject a new wave of interest in wireless charging in general, enabling public venues to support the ecosystem and satisfy those who may have been “sat-on-the-fence” for a while.    The news means that the industry now has all of the major handset manufacturers not just working together on a common standard (Qi), but actually implementing it. The vision of a global ubiquitous charging ecosystem is now becoming more real than ever before.

2. What do you think will be the biggest challenge for infrastructure that is already in place, in light of the Apple announcement?

I think the biggest point to note is that the wireless charging ecosystem and its infrastructure won’t change overnight. The Qi standard is backward compatible so all existing Qi certified infrastructure will work with the new iPhone range (purely going off information provided in the announcement). I read in an article recently, however, that there are more than 700 million (now legacy) iPhones in existence along with many millions of other mobile phones in circulation that still don’t have built-in wireless charging. In our opinion the requirement in the mid-term of a fully certified bridge/accessory deployed in venue (e.g. the Aircharge “Orb”) will be paramount to ensuring all customers with legacy devices receive the same level of service. The responsibility on anyone deploying wireless charging infrastructure is to design their products with consumer experience in mind and with the relevant industry certifications which ensure they have been tested for interoperability, safety, etc. I think it is safe to assume that all certified existing Qi infrastructure is going to get much more use as more volume devices with Qi built-in arrive on the market. This means durability and quality of industrial product design are also going to be tested – something that could trip up inexperienced infrastructure suppliers.

Much harder challenges obviously exist for those who chose to deploy a non-Qi certified wireless charging solution!

3. What is some of the feedback you’re getting from the public places that are implementing your chargers?

In general all feedback is very positive. Aircharge customers and their customers in turn see an instant value in both public venue deployments and the solutions we provide to office, transport or direct to the consumer. With innovative products there is always a learning curve so we believe that the ever increasing awareness in wireless charging in general is only going to drive additional positive experiences.

4. What are you most looking forward to hearing at Wireless Power Summit 2017?

In my opinion the industry has come together on a standard that can now really drive out a ubiquitous ecosystem, however this is just the beginning, there is a long way to go. I’m interested in how plans to reach this scale may evolve, not just in public venues but in new building infrastructure, automotive and public transportation for example. I’m also interested in hearing about new innovations and applications.

 Having attending almost all of the annual Wireless Power Summits and spoken at many of them, the question that cropped up time and time again was “What will Apple do”? Now that question has been answered people should attend to find out both how those who didn’t wait for the answer have produced products, platforms and deployed solutions that could be very powerful for their use, and how those who did, may now plan to innovate and enable new products and applications in order to define their position in the market.

Hear more from Ryan at this year's Wireless Power Summit 2017