Most phones and other gadgets that support wireless charging still need to be placed on or very close to a charging surface. So the key benefit is that you don’t need to fiddle with wires or charging ports: just put down your phone when you want to charge it and pick it up when you want to use it.

But for the past few years a couple of companies have been developing technology for wireless charging at a distance, which would theoretically allow your gadgets to charge when you’re in the same room as a charger.

We’re not quite there yet, but Energous has announced we’re one step closer: the company has received FCC certification for technology that allows devices to charge when they’re up to 3 feet away from a charger.

The company says the Energous WattUp Mid Field transmitter delivers power via radio frequency energy, and that it:

  • Supports both contact-based and non-contact based wireless charging
  • Can charge multiple devices at once
  • Works with “nearly any small electronic device, including smartphones, tablets, fitness trackers, smart watches, earbuds, wireless keyboards and mice, smart speakers and more”

It sounds like contact-based charging might still be faster, allowing a WattUp system to deliver fast charging for smartphones and tablets. But the thought of never having to change the batteries in your wireless mouse, keyboard, or other devices that tend to sit on your desk all the time anyway is kind of appealing.

The 3 foot limit means you probably won’t be charging your phone while sitting on the couch, unless you keep your Mid Field transmitter near the couch. But it could work nicely on a desk or nightstand. And in the future Energous hopes to expand the distance as well as the amount of power delivered.

Energous will be showing off the Mid Field transmitter at CES in January. There’s no word on if or when devices that use the technology will be available for purchase.

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21 replies on “Energous wireless charger works from up to 3 feet away, gets FCC certification”

  1. In 10 years from now, top selling gadgets will be anti radiation suits for home use.

  2. Most phones will only use the power from a weak wall adapter (or computer usb port) to regulate the system current load before charging the battery. For people who want to charge their phone while in their pocket this might be acceptable. These days you can get a lot of energy from a 5-10min plugin.

    1. Agreed. Unless this wireless power delivery gets much better, very quickly, it will be overtaken by improvements in batteries. Who cares about charging when you can get to 100% in 60 seconds?

      1. And fast/plug charging could kick the bucket too.
        Who cares about charging when you can get 12 months of battery life?

        …see everything is relative

  3. You have to google around to find it, but it looks like the spec for ‘small’ device embedded with wireless charging can be delivered a rather tiny…

    100mW

    That’s probably just about enough to keep a mouse charged, particularly if it can charge when not in use. And might trickle charge other relatively low power devices.

    I wouldn’t like to rely on it to charge a laptop.

    But combined with ‘contactless’ charging like Qi, which can do up to 8000mW in theory for current devices, I could see this being convenient…

  4. I hate to think how inefficient this stuff is. Nothing like faster climate change due to wasted power by frivolities like this.

    1. I have to wonder if this would be any better than disposable batteries in your keyboard/mouse and similar.

  5. I wouldn’t want something that charges devices from three feet away to be on my nightstand.

    1. Why? It is probably harmless at the power it actually puts out. You probably get more irradiated by all the wifi, powerlines, and other signals and those have not been demonstrated to cause harm.

      1. Emphasis on the word “probably.” And for what benefit? I’m perfectly capable of operating a plug into an inlet.

        But whatever. We live in a country where teenagers stand in front of microwaves for hours at work while they make fast food. Personal safety is not highly regarded. These are the sorts of things that don’t really demonstrate a problem, until long after there’s a problem. And again, for what benefit?

        1. Microwaves are the example you bring up? You do realize that they have very good Faraday cages for the wavelength, meaning the power standing in front of the microwave is nothing. If we take the established safe standard for continuous exposure (10 mW/cm2) and compare it with actual microwave ovens, it’s safe within a large margin. The US legal standard for microwaves is 5 mW/cm2 at 5 cm distance, and most microwaves are measured at an order of magnitude lower than that.

          So I’m curious, is it that you think the established standards are not strict enough? Or something else?

          1. I’m saying the “established standards” might be wrong, and that we won’t know it until after there is a serious problem affecting thousands of people. Tobacco and thalidomide were once thought to be safe too, but it was simply a matter of not understanding how they were dangerous.

            Now I’m not suggesting totally avoiding cell phones, wi-fi, etc., or even this technology. I’m just saying it’s probably not a good trade-off to sleep for one-third of your daily hours with this thing close to your head simply to avoid the incredibly burdensome and horrific task of plugging in a smartphone to power.

      2. Cancer is on the rise everywhere, but there are no concrete evidence that radio signals, chemicals in foods and water, or other stuff are directly related to it, so we can keep sleeping peacefully. On the other hand US was spraying DDT directly on the faces of family’s in documentary films to prove how safe it was.

    2. How are you different than folks scared of wifi, or … electricity?

      Anyway this is why there are regulatory approvals, to make sure products are safe.
      And ofc they don’t just blast everything with RF as that would be very very inefficient, they use beamforming to only target the devices that are being charged.

      1. Doing without wifi and particularly electricity would be a serious hardship. Having to plug in your smartphone or just relocate one of these devices away from your nightstand is not a significant hardship.

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