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STMicroelectronics, WiTricity Develop Wireless Charging ICs


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STMicroelectronics NV (STM - Snapshot Report) is collaborating with WiTricity to design and develop integrated circuits (ICs) that support magnetic resonance-based wireless power transfer. The new chip aims at delivering spatial freedom, as well as wireless fast charging of one or more devices simultaneously.

Magnetic resonance-based solutions transfer power between two inductors that are tuned to the same natural resonant frequency. Resonance charging offers unique advantages in spatial freedom, enabling the transmitter (resonance charger) to be separated from the receiver (portable device) by several inches or more.

The collaboration will combine WiTricity’s expertise in wireless power-transfer and magnetic resonance technology with STMicro’s resources and intellectual property (IP) including Smart Power technologies and RF Bluetooth low energy.

Wireless Charging: Great Potential for STMicro

Wireless charging pads/pods built with the new ICs will be able to charge metal-body smartphones, tablets, and smartwatches, an improvement over legacy systems. Notably, in Jul 2015, Qualcomm (QCOM - Analyst Report) had announced a solution based on its WiPower technology that allowed wireless charging for devices with metal exteriors.

Qualcomm’s solution was compliant with the Rezence (old A4WP) standard. However, STMicro-WiTricity solution will not only comply with the AirFuel (comprises both A4WP and PMA) magnetic resonance specification but also with multi-mode solutions that incorporate both resonant and inductive charging.

STMicro-WiTricity solution has significant growth opportunities in consumer electronics, Internet of Things (IoT), mobile computing, automotive, medical, and industrial applications.  

According to market research firm IHS, 10% of smartphones to be shipped in 2016 will be capable of wireless charging. Wearables are already the second largest wireless-charging device category, driven by Apple (AAPL - Analyst Report) Watch, Samsung Gear S2, FitBit (FIT - Analyst Report) and other popular products.  

Per Grand View Research’s July report, the global wireless charging market is projected to reach $22.25 billion by 2022. Resonant technology is expected to witness rapid growth due to its capability to charge multiple devices simultaneously, which bodes well for STMicro.

STMicro – HMicro Collaboration

The company is also expected to benefit from the newly launched collaboration with HMicro to develop the industry’s first single-chip solution for clinical-grade, single-use disposable smart patches and biosensors. The product called HC1100 targets the 5 billion wired wearable sensors, such as those for vital-sign monitors and electrocardiogram leads, utilized annually.

The HC1100 chip is based on the WiPoint technology and a purpose-built silicon platform jointly created by HMicro and STMicro. The  companies are anticipated to deploy the new chip in high volume clinical and industrial IoT applications in the long haul.

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