Energous technology promises wireless charging at a distance

26 September 2015 by Steve Blum
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Big charger with a small beam.

The easiest way to charge a wearable gizmo is to do it while you’re wearing it. Taking off a fitness monitor, say, every night is a fast route to leaving it behind every morning. Energous Corporation has a way to make that happen.

The company demoed its short range wireless charging technology at Pepcom’s Mobile Focus event in San Francisco in May. The idea is to use 5 GHz WiFi transmissions, pinpoint focused by a Bluetooth steering beacon, to charge handheld devices. The two questions that pop to mind are 1. is it safe and 2. will anyone believe it?

The answer to the first question is yes, according to George Holmes, a marketing executive for the company. And he’s probably right, given the low heat levels involved and the fact that, thermal effects aside, there’s no rational basis for believing that radio waves cause any harm to living things. That said, the FCC hasn’t signed off on the technology, from either a safety or interference perspective.

Holmes believes the rational segment of the market is all Energous needs. “There are people who will use this because it’ll make their lives more convenient and some who won’t”, Holmes said. “I’ll never sell to those who won’t”.

The claimed charging capability is pretty robust, ranging from 16 watts at 5 feet away to 4 watts – enough for most mobile devices – at 15 feet. Up to 12 devices can be charged at once. The secret sauce behind the product is the antenna steering technology that can focus power on a small point, and follow it as it moves.