FCC approves first 'power-at-a-distance' wireless charging device

Alonzo Simpson
December 28, 2017

Wireless charging devices are already available, but have to be in direct contact with the phone or other device they are recharging. 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. The technology used by Energous in its wireless charger is different from the resonant induction method used by the Pi wireless charging system. Energous says the WattUp can work with any type of device with a compatible receiver to convert the RF signal to battery power. However, though claimed as wireless, this technology would be required to be outfitted with a receiver to receive the converted radio frequencies for charging the devices.

In a major step forward for charging technology, the FCC has certified the first at-a-distance wireless charging system.

Even so, Energous' official announcement gives the example of "charging a fitness band even while wearing it", which appears to mean it may work if the transmitter is beaming the waves at you while you're on the treadmill. According to the company, its wireless charges can charge the surrounding devices up to three feet away.

The company plans to expand upon WattUp in 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 much more.

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"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.

Energous has also developed a version of the charger that works from 15 feet away, but for now only the three-foot version has been approved by the FCC.

Energous Corp. hopes to bring this technology and system to sale at the end of 2018 or the beginning of 2019.

Energous will demonstrate the WattUp charger at next year's CES, which kicks off on January 9 in Las Vegas.

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