Well folks, 2018 could finally be the year that we get true wireless charging — or charging at a distance without the need for charging pads. Energous has been making news headlines for a few years now for its wireless charging concepts, and the company announced just a few weeks ago that it had received FCC approval for its WattUp Mid Field charging tech. Now, at CES 2018, it’s showing the first WattUp-supported product, a smart underwear from Skiin.
What the FCC approval means is that the company is now able to deliver products with Near Field and Mid Field charging — Near Field being wireless charging with contact, like a charging pad, and Mid Field being wireless charging at a distance of up to 3 feet. That makes it perfect for charging device on a desk or night stand. The company is also working on Far Field charging — which allows for charging at up to 15 feet.
Energous has been partnering with Dialog Semiconductor, a chip manufacturer, for some time now in an effort to bring the tech to consumers, and 2018 could be the year that the tech hits big. Already the company has partnered with Myant for a smart clothing line called Skiin, which uses Energous’ WattUp charging tech to charge the embedded sensors in the underwear. At launch, only Near Field tech will charge the underwear, but Energous says that once Mid Field and even Far Field chargers come to market they’ll be able to charge Skiin clothing too. Skiin clothing basically tracks metrics like heart rate, without the need for a device like a smart watch.
Of course, smart clothing isn’t the end game here. Eventually, Energous wants to bring charging-at-a-distance tech to all kinds of devices, from phones to watches to laptops. It’s likely full adoption will require multiple different uses of the tech. For example, you could have a Near Field charger on your desk for quick charging, a Mid Field charger in each room to charge while you walk around the house, and a Far Field charger in your office to be used by everyone in the workplace.
According to Dialog Semiconductor, the company has already built and demonstrated two wireless charging chips to customers, suggesting that some other device manufacturers could already be working on devices with the charging tech built right in.
Previously it was revealed that Apple and Dialog Semiconductor had formed a partnership, prompting rumors that Apple would be adopting a revolutionary new wireless charging tech in the latest iPhone. But the iPhone launch came and went, and while Apple has adopted Qi wireless charging, distance-charging tech was no where to be seen. Of course, it is still possible that a future iPhone model will adopt the tech, though it remains to be seen.
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