Audi announced today at its first appearance at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas that it has developed and is bringing to market one of the first OEM applications of wireless device charging for its vehicles. With this charger, Audi claims that people will be able to charge their smartphones in their Audi vehicles without connecting a charging cable, cord, or adapter.
The system was developed in collaboration with Electronics Research Lab, Qualcomm Incorporated, and Peiker and works similarly to the inductive charging mats that we've seen enter the market over the last year or so (such as the). Users simply drop their smartphone onto the pad, which mounts in the center console and connects to the vehicle's power supply with a single cable, and the charging begins. The single connection and the simple nature of the installation means that this system could potentially be available as a dealer installed option that users can add to their vehicle pre- or post-purchase.
As the charging occurs, Audi states that users will be able to receive feedback of charging state and status on the device's screen and on the vehicle's infotainment system's screen. The automaker also claims that the system doesn't interfere with the operation of Bluetooth or Wi-Fi wireless connections. If this is true, users will be able to--for example--settle into their vehicle, drop their phone onto the charger, and use the Bluetooth connection for audio streaming.
Done right, this could be a huge leap in user-friendliness. However, we assume that, like every other inductive charging system we've seen, users will need to use a battery that supports wireless charging for Audi's system to work--or, in the case of the iPhone, an inductive case. This is an additional cost on top of whatever Audi plans to charge for its wireless charging option.