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Wireless charging startup Energous unwraps Bluetooth speakers, hearing aids

Truly wireless charging — that is to say, charging over the air — is a fantasy slowly becoming reality. While startups like Ossia have overcome the engineering challenges involved, though, building an ecosystem of devices that support it is another matter. But Energous, the company behind wireless charging system WattUp, is making inroads. At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the company announced partnerships with a Bluetooth speaker company, a hearing aid manufacturer, and a touch and pen firm, and more.

“Having our partners unveil the first of many WattUp-enabled products is a huge milestone in our vision of creating a strong ecosystem for wireless charging,” Energous president and CEO Stephen R. Rizzone said in a press release. “Working with these innovative and agile partners enables us to take that first step into shifting the entire paradigm of how we use, charge, and manage devices today. We are grateful to these early partners for pioneering the future with us and look forward to additional growth in commercially available WattUp-enabled products throughout 2017.”

Energous’s proprietary WattUp technology relies wireless antennas to charge devices at a distance of up to 15 feet. The hardware’s similar in principle to a wireless router: WattUp uses radio frequencies to deliver power-packed signals to multiple devices. And uniquely, it’s controlled by software, meaning end users can prioritize the order of which devices receive power, create charging schedules, and more.

More: New wireless charging tech may enhance your next phone, thanks to FCC approval

The list of partners announced at the convention include:

  • Chipolo Plus Gen 2, the “world’s loudest” Bluetooth tracker, attaches to personal items like wallets, luggage, keys, phones, and more. The second generation, the Chipolo Plus Gen 2, boasts WattUp’s built-in WattUp wireless charging. And the forthcoming Chipolo Sticker, the “world’s smallest” wireless tracking device, will also support WattUp.
  • The new Carotid Stenotic Scan (CSS) by device company CVR Global performs subsonic sound analysis technology that detects and diagnoses disorders like atherosclerosis and stenosis within the human arterial system. WattUp’s technology is integrated into the device’s sensor array.
  • PERI MicroPack, a 700mAh power dongle, is the first that can be recharged wirelessly with WattUp.
  • A new hearing aid by SK Telesys lacks a charging port, instead relying on WattUp technology for charging. And the company’s smart ID card, which authenticates fingerprint identification before usage, charges wirelessly using a miniature WattUp transmitter.
  • The Prism Pen features Prism technology, a single-sensor, low-latency solution for touch and pen, features WattUp technology. And the Prism Pen stylus is equipped with WattUp wireless charging.

The news comes on the heels of a $10 million investment from Dialog Semiconductor, a silicon manufacturing giant, in exchange for exclusive manufacturing rights. In March, Energous partnered with fabricator Pegatron to integrate wireless charging technology into certain product designs. And earlier this year, the firm inked a similar deal with Foxconn.

The Federal Communications Commission approved Energous’s wireless charging solution earlier this year … with a caveat. Much like wireless charging pads currently on the market, devices that support WattUp charging have to remain in contact with a transmitter. Rizzone says that the company’s developing technology that can charge at short distances.

Rumblings persist that Energous may integrate WattUp technology into Apple’s next flagship iPhone — a rumor that both companies deny.