Wireless charging was the hot new thing a few years back, then it faded away a bit. Now, it's coming back with Apple's decision to finally adopt one of the existing wireless charging standards. Every phone with wireless charging still needs to be sitting on the charging pad, but that could change soon. Wireless charging startup Energous has announced that its WattUp system has been approved by the FCC, making it the first "at-a-distance" wireless charging tech ready for consumers.
The Energous system has been shown off at trade shows and other events for a few years, but there was no word on when or even if it would be ready for use in the real world. In its commercialized form, WattUp uses a mid-field RF transmitter to beam energy to devices up to three feet away. Energous says the WattUp system has undergone rigorous testing to make sure it adheres to industry standards and won't pose a danger to humans.
In the demo above, Energous shows off a much greater distance than what it specifies in the press release. As impressive as the demo is, it's possible that sort of range just isn't feasible in real life. The RF from a higher power transmitter might interfere with other devices, or perhaps it's just massively inefficient. At any rate, you'll be limited to three feet. Investors don't seem too worried—Energous' stock price shot up 80% today.
The three-foot range of the final technology could still be a vast improvement over existing wireless tech, though. You could have the WattUp module under your desk to charge up a phone, tablet, smartwatch, and more gadgets throughout the day. There are no devices with WattUp built-in at this time. The first examples of the technology will likely be charging cases like the one shown in the video, but it's possible device makers will want to add the hardware to phones down the line.
SAN JOSE, CA -- (Marketwired) -- 12/26/17 -- Energous Corporation (NASDAQ: WATT), the developer of WattUp®, a revolutionary wire-free, power-at-a-distance charging technology, today announced Federal Communications Commission (FCC) certification of its first-generation WattUp Mid Field transmitter, which sends focused, RF-based power to devices at a distance. As the first FCC certification for power-at-a-distance wireless charging under Part 18 of the FCC's rules, this development represents a new era of wireless charging, and opens up a tremendous opportunity for the electronics industry.
Energous' WattUp Mid Field transmitter underwent rigorous, multi-month testing to verify it met consumer safety and regulatory requirements. As the first Part 18 FCC approved power-at-a-distance wireless charging transmitter, the certification marks a significant milestone for the consumer electronics industry and paves the way for future wireless charging ubiquity for nearly any small electronic device, including smartphones, tablets, fitness trackers, smart watches, earbuds, wireless keyboards and mice, smart speakers and more.
The company's WattUp Mid Field transmitter can deliver power via radio frequency (RF) energy to WattUp-enabled electronic devices at a distance of up to three feet. As the only technology that can do both contact-based and non-contact-based wireless charging, as well as charge multiple devices at once, WattUp is highly scalable and automatically charges devices, as needed, until they are topped off. While older charging technologies allow for only contact-based charging, Energous is the only company to achieve Wireless Charging 2.0 to-date, which is the ability to charge devices both at contact (including fast charging large battery devices such as smartphones and tablets), as well as power-at-a-distance. Similar to WiFi, the WattUp ecosystem ensures interoperability between receivers and transmitters, regardless of the manufacturer, making the entire ecosystem flexible and accessible for consumers and manufacturing partners.
"Older wireless charging technologies have received limited adoption over the past 15 years, and are confined to contact-based charging only. The FCC certification of Energous' power-at-a-distance wireless charging transmitter is a major market milestone. It opens up options, outside of just contact-based charging, to Wireless Charging 2.0: an ecosystem where devices can be charged both, via pad and at a distance," said Stephen R. Rizzone, president and CEO of Energous. "Untethered, wire-free charging -- such as charging a fitness band even while wearing it -- is exactly what consumers have been waiting for. We are now in a position to move our consumer electronics, IoT and smart home customers forward at an accelerated pace."
"WattUp from Energous represents an incredibly positive lifestyle change," said Martin Cooper, Energous Board of Directors member and 'Father of the Cell Phone' -- a pioneer and visionary of the wireless industry. "This ground-breaking technology allows users to automatically charge their WattUp-enabled devices without having to remove them from their wrist or pocket, plug them in or place them on a mat to charge, freeing them from ever having to think about charging their devices again."
WattUp transmitter technology will continue to advance in both power, distance, efficiency and scale, with applications that could include integration into the bezel of computer monitors, soundbars, smart speakers, TVs, smart lighting, and other electronics in the home, office and beyond.
"Providing meaningful power-at-a-distance is a real game changer for wireless charging," said Mark Tyndall, senior vice president corporate development and strategy, Dialog Semiconductor. "As the strategic partner and exclusive world-wide supplier of Energous' WattUp technology, Dialog provides early adopters with the assurance of chip supply and support that comes from a top tier semiconductor company that ships millions of chips each month into some of the world's most demanding customers."
This represents the first time FCC equipment certification has been awarded to any device that charges wirelessly at a distance, and operates under Part 18 of the FCC's rules. The FCC's Part 18 rules permit higher-power operations than are permitted under the Part 15 rules that have been used to approve other at a distance charging devices.
The company will be demonstrating its very latest WattUp technology at CES 2018, the world's largest consumer electronics show, January 9-12 in Las Vegas, NV. To learn more about Energous, please visit Energous.com or follow the company on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn.