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Network World - At CES 2013, the Wireless Power Consortium displayed dozens of devices that were designed to the Qi wireless charging standard, suggesting that 2013 may be the year wireless charging becomes a feature consumers expect to come standard in new smartphones.
Nokia and HTC already offer smartphones with Qi technology integrated directly, such as the Lumia 920 and Droid DNA. For more popular smartphones that were not developed with Qi compatibility, including Apple's iPhone 5 and Samsung's Galaxy S3, third-party manufacturers have developed smartphone cases with integrated Qi technology. The cases themselves plug into the phone's power dock and relay a charge received when the encased phone is placed on a wireless power source.
Further facilitating the rise of wireless charging is the Qi standard's compatibility. Although manufacturers can build wirelessly charging devices on their own, the standard dictates that all Qi-enabled devices are compatible with all Qi-enabled power sources. That means a wireless charging pad developed by Nokia could charge a smartphone built by HTC, and so on. Best of all, it means smartphone users will never again need to scramble for a power cord that fits into the custom-designed power dock on their phones.
[ALSO AT CES: 10 wireless charging technologies on display at CES 2013
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But what does the impending rise of wirelessly charging smartphones have to do with the growth of near-field communications (NFC) technology?
At CES, the WPC booth also displayed several new components designed to facilitate the integration of the Qi wireless charging technology. One component on display, developed by TDK, integrated both Qi wireless technology and NFC into a single chip.
As these components become smaller, cheaper, and easier to integrate into devices, Bas Fransen, chief marketing officer at ConvenientPower, says manufacturers will ship more smartphones featuring both wireless charging and NFC.
"The beauty of Qi is that the receiver actually is very simple and low in cost; that has been the objective as mobile phone OEMs demand ultra-low-cost adders," Fransen says. "So, indeed, once those chips are ready, it will be simple for mobile phone OEMs to integrate Qi and NFC."
Some smartphones already feature both NFC and Qi. At CES, Fransen placed an NFC/Qi-enabled smartphone on top of a similarly outfitted JBL boombox, which charged the device while streaming audio through its speakers wirelessly.
However, the Qi and NFC technologies were integrated separately in the manufacturing process of some of these devices, which is why phones that boast both capabilities have been so rare to this point. But as manufacturers look to set their devices apart from those of their competitors, Fransen says the integration of NFC and wireless charging will become a common trend by the second half of 2013.