Manufacturing and Technology

Gill Electronics licenses wireless-charging technology from Qualcomm

June 18, 2013
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Gill Electronics, Qualcomm produce wireless charging devices
Gill Electronics and Qualcomm are producing wireless charging devices for the furniture and automotive industries. Photo courtesy Gill Electronics

The technology to charge wireless devices without having to use wires is here.

Gill Electronics, a Grand Rapids-based electronics company wholly owned by the global manufacturing holding company Gill Holding, announced yesterday an agreement with Qualcomm Inc. to obtain the rights to develop, manufacture, and sell wireless charging products for the furniture and automotive industries.

“With the prevalence of mobile electronic devices in today's society, the need to provide power to charge these devices is enormous,” said Richard Perreault, Gill president. “With wireless power technology, people will be able to simultaneously charge anything from a Bluetooth headset, smartphone or tablet to a Netbook by simply placing it on the counter or desk, or in a car, without any plug-in. We expect the first products to be available later this year.”

Gill’s initial specialty transmitters, designed to placed on furniture and in vehicles, omit a 3-D charging field, allowing for multiple devices of different sorts to be charged simultaneously. These transmitters, which can work on the receiver-embedded devices separated by a field of up to 25 millimeters, can still charge even through obstacle objects like coins, magazines and credit cards, the magnetic strips of which will not be altered, according to information released by Gill.

The transmitters will work with any cell phone as long as the device is embedded with one of Gill’s receivers, said Brad Miller, Gill’s director of advanced development. Gill and Qualcomm, both founding members of the global and independently operated Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP), have made a substantial five-year investment in this technology, he said, calling the move one that has the ability to transform Gill Electronics as a company.

“One of the great things we’ve been able to do (through A4WP) is have companies like Qualcomm and Samsung, which has allowed us to tailor the technology into current handsets,” he said. “We’re utilizing capabilities already in the phone to help with the wireless transfer.”

While Gill’s initial transmitters are intended to wirelessly charge smaller devices such as cell phones and handsets, future transmitters will focus on wirelessly powering larger equipment, such as laptops and household appliances, Miller said.

Wireless power could change everything, he said.

“The power cord is the last remaining cord we have yet to cut. While wireless power transfer has been around for over a hundred years and practically in the market since 2007, it has not taken off because the use case of inductive power transfer does not meet the real world needs for most people,” he said.

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