On the 7th of January, UK-based wireless charging solution provider Aircharge announced that it will be installing 600 wireless charging stations in more than 50 McDonalds restaurants in the UK. The wireless charging stations will be built to the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC) specification known as Qi.
The move follows the recent rollout of wireless charging stations in Starbucks in the United States which will use the Power Matters Alliance (PMA) Specification. Unlike the Starbucks roll out, more wireless charging enabled devices currently on the market will be compatible with the Qi specification charging stations that the McDonalds roll out will use. Most of the wireless charging enabled products currently on the market have a built in Qi compatible receiver, including the Google Nexus 6, the Nokia Lumia 930 and the Nokia Lumia 830.
IHS estimates that the number of wireless charging enabled devices in 2014 was around 58 million, predicted to grow to around 920 million in 2018. Mobile phones were identified to account for around 60% of the total number of wireless enabled devices shipped in 2014. One of the barriers to the adoption of wireless charging has been that consumers have not been aware that wireless charging technology exists in the market today. With roll outs in major retail chains such as Mcdonalds and Starbucks, the knowledge and awareness of consumers will be improved. The installation of wireless charging stations in McDonalds restaurants will certainly increase the adoption of wireless enabled devices locally, however a roll out across just 50 restaurants is not likely to affect the global forecast over the next 5 years. If this is the beginning of a wider roll out of Qi specification charging stations then it would likely accelerate global adoption of wireless enabled devices.
Two of the three major alliances, the Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP) and the Power Matters Alliance (PMA), announced earlier in the month that they are intending to merge. Currently, in order for a wireless receiver to be compatible with multiple alliance specifications a multimode solution is required, however this approach is usually more expensive. IHS predicts that multimode solutions will help drive short term growth however is not expected to be a long term solution.
As more companies like Aircharge begin to roll out charging stations in public and retail environments, the benefits of wireless charging enabled devices are becoming increasingly apparent. It is also important that these pioneering projects are spreading awareness of wireless power technology.
More analysis from IHS: Wireless Power Intelligence Service