updated 06:25 pm EDT, Mon April 18, 2011
Ti unveils ultra-small Qi wireless power chips
Texas Instruments started the week by promising a very small wireless power chip, the bq51013, that could lead to the technology spreading to other devices. Its design measures just 0.12 inches at its longest point, 80 percent less than TI's previous version, but can still provide the 5W of inductive power needed for smartphones, MP3 players, and most other mobile devices. It backs the official Qi power standard and should work with any charger that supports the standard.
The design is 93 percent efficient at peak and should charge as quickly as if the host device were plugged into AC power.
Hardware creators can immediately start buying the bq51013 and would pay a relatively minor premium for the wireless power option at $3.50 in batches of 1,000. No customers have been named so far.
Wireless charging has found its way into a handful of devices built-in but has had relatively few large-scale buyers. Palm was one of the first to embrace it with an optional back for the Pre and, under HP, will expand through native support for devices like the TouchPad. It may get a larger boost with the imminent launch of the HTC Droid Incredible 2 on Verizon, where a chance exists that wireless power will be standard.
Until now, however, wireless charging has mostly been off-limits to thinner or overall smaller devices. The new TI chip could result in more phones and other handhelds that charge wirelessly without having to make conspicuous design sacrifices.