Wireless power developer Energous announced Tuesday that the Federal Communications Commission has granted consumer safety certification for its wireless charging technology, opening the door to commercialization.
The company said this was the first FCC approval for remote wireless charging, and its stock (WATT) shot up nearly 100% in the hours after the announcement.
The newly-approved system, called WattUp, uses radio frequencies to transmit power to devices like smartphones and watches. It’s crucially distinct from systems that can only charge devices when the devices are in contact with charging pads. Those systems are often marketed as “wireless” charging, but haven’t proven very popular over more than a decade on the market.
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By contrast, WattUp promises to charge everything from game controllers to tablets from as far as 15 feet away, though the current approval only covers a three-foot transmission range. Energous has claimed the WattUp transmitter will be able to charge more than a dozen devices at once.
It may still be a while, however, before the technology delivers on its promises of seamless, omnipresent charging. That’s because, to work with a WattUp transmitter, devices will need to be equipped with a tailor-made battery pack or receiver. In some cases, such as with laptops, a plug-in adapter may be a viable solution.
But with other devices, such as smartphones, a truly seamless experience will probably require integrating the technology from the ground up. Energous has a licensing agreement with Apple power-chip supplier Dialog Semiconductor that could smooth the path towards that real-world milestone.