Energous' WhattUp can wirelessly charge any device without docking it.

Steve Phelps
December 28, 2017

Wireless chargers have been around for several years, but a lot of them require a device to be in direct contact with the station.

It's been a while since we last heard anything about Energous.

Drop the plug and forget the mat - the Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday approved a wireless gizmo that lets people charge their smartphones and other devices from up to three feet away.

The device is called the WattUp Mid Field transmitter, and Energous, the startup responsible for making it, claims it lets you charge multiple devices at once from a distance of around three feet.

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Energous isn't the first startup that promised to bring a true wireless charging experience, in fact some companies are even working on a similar concept for electric vehicles.

It's all rather jargon-y and not terribly interesting to the average consumer, but the bottom line is this: the company probably did not go through all the trouble of getting FCC approval if it doesn't intend to bring the product to market within a reasonable interval. As of now, the company does not have any retail-ready device, but plans to show-off the new technology at the CES (Consumer Electronics Show) 2018.

Talk of long-range wireless charging has been around for some time, but we've yet to see a product that can charge devices from relatively long distances. It allows juicing up of devices on any contact-based or non-contact-based wireless charging. Energy is sent through an inductive coupling to an electrical device, which can then use that energy to charge batteries or run the device.

"WattUp from Energous represents an incredibly positive lifestyle change", said Martin Cooper, Energous Board of Directors member and "Father of the Cell Phone" - a pioneer and visionary of the wireless industry. That means a WhattUp-enabled device would be compatible with a transmitter made by some other manufacturer. Charging distance again isn't the only differentiating factor between Energous and Pi as unlike the former, Pi is based on resonant induction technology. The idea is that a whole system can charge different devices simultaneously as long as within range.

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