Over the past few years, two technological trends have gradually begun to pick up. Appliances have become smarter and more connected to other devices, and wireless charging technology has gotten more sophisticated, allowing us to power devices from increasingly long distances. These two technologies have evolved separately from one another in the past, but now Haier, one of the world’s biggest appliance manufacturers, wants to bring them together.
Haier has recently signed a joint development agreement with Energous, a California-based company that makes a proprietary wireless charging technology called WattUp. Together, the two companies plan to collaborate to build WattUp transmitter technology into a range of different household appliances, including refrigerators, washing machines, dryers, microwaves, stoves, and more.
Unlike currently-available wireless charging solutions, which can typically only transmit power over a couple inches; WattUp delivers power of the same radio bands as a Wi-Fi router, allowing it to beam power to your devices from multiple feet away, even as you roam around the room. The idea seems to be that by building this technology into common household appliances, Haier will “create an always-on charging environment in high-traffic areas in homes, offices, retail stores and other commercial spaces.”
This plan certainly sounds good on paper, but time will tell if it actually catches on or not. Appliances that double as wireless charging hubs would undoubtedly cost more than those that don’t, and replacing an existing appliance with an expensive new one just to get wireless charging functionality doesn’t really seem like something most consumers would be willing to do — especially if standalone wireless power hubs (such as uBeam) can be had for a lower price.
What do you think? Are gadget-charging appliances something you’d buy for your home? Or are they an unnecessary luxury that you’d rather steer clear of? Sound off in the comments below.