The FCC just approved a device that charges your phone through thin air

The technology can charge any wireless device from 3 feet away.

Dec 28, 2017, 10:18 am


Phillip Tracy 

Phillip Tracy

energous wireless charging smartphone transmitter

Energous Corporation/YouTube

Wireless charging, a convenient feature found in most high-end smartphones, makes the hassle of constantly needing to charge your device a bit more tolerable. However, it’s also filled with empty promises. Not unlike those awful exploding “hoverboards” or the almost-wireless “wireless” earbuds, its name doesn’t tell the full story. That’s because wireless charging still requires a phone to sit on a charging pad.

That may soon change now that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has approved power-at-a-distance, or truly wireless charging technology. San Jose-based startup Energous announced on Tuesday that it became the first company to receive such approval for its WattUp Mid-Field, a transmitter that can charge devices up to three feet away. It does so by converting wireless signals into electricity and sending “energy packets” to nearby electronics.

For your devices to start charging they’ll need a corresponding receiver that can capture the signals WattUp transmits. Fortunately, the transmitter is similar to Wi-Fi in that it doesn’t discriminate between devices, so any smartphone—Android or iOS—should theoretically be compatible. Your mobile device is an obvious candidate for this technology, but it should work on most gadgets, including smartwatches, wireless mice, headphones—any portable electronic that runs on a battery.

Here’s a demo video showing how it all works.

As you can see, the transmitter can wirelessly charge any number of devices at the same time. It can also fast charge devices that are in direct contact with it, though only smaller gadgets will benefit from this. The FCC certified the company’s mid-field transmitter, which is designed for close-distance wireless charging for phones, mice, headphones, and other small devices. Energous also has a USB near-field WattUp that connects directly to devices and a far-field WattUp designed for larger spaces and devices like TVs, Bluetooth speakers, and home appliances.

“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 wrote in a blog post.

The FCC’s certification is an encouraging sign for truly wireless charging technology but it doesn’t mean we’ll be using it anytime soon. There are still many details that need clarifying, like how much it will cost, whether it can keep a device charged while it’s in use, and, of course, how secure it is.

Energous will demo its charging technology at CES 2018 next month, where the Daily Dot will get its first look at the technology in action.

H/T Tom’s Guide

Share this article
*First Published: Dec 28, 2017, 10:18 am