SAN JOSE, CALIF. – It’s the next step in wireless convenience: Your smartphone begins charging automatically when you step into a room with it, as power is delivered the way Wi-Fi enables wireless data — no plugs, no cords, no mats.
Energous is looking toward International CES in January to debut prototypes and reference designs of its WattUp power-delivery technology, described as “a disruptive wirefree charging technology for electronic devices that provides power at a distance with complete mobility under full software control.”
A recently announced joint development agreement (JDA) saw Energous pinpointing its initial entry into households: though the kitchen.
The company announced a deal with the world’s largest appliance maker, Haier, to add WattUp as a feature in future major appliance models.
The agreement with Haier Wireless, a wholly owned subsidiary of Haier Group, will allow Energous to embed WattUp transmitter technology into refrigerators, washing machines, dryers, microwaves, stoves and more.
“WattUp is a natural fit for a wide range of smart home products,” said William Xu, chief marketing officer of Haier Wireless. “As Haier Wireless continues to cultivate the wireless-power industrial ecosystem in the connected-home market, true wire-free charging is a value-add we feel we must aggressively pursue.”
The patent- and trademark-pending WattUp solution delivers intelligent, scalable power via the same radio bands as a Wi-Fi router, at up to 30 feet, for up to 24 devices. The technology uses an array of individual antennas so each antenna only sends a fraction of the total delivered power. WattUp receiving devices also have multiple antennas, reducing the nominal level on a single antenna.
Energous has partnered with leading testing firms, including UL, BACL and Intertek, to certify the safety of the technology.
Energous CEO Stephen Rizzone, in a briefing with TWICE, said the company is aiming for a commercial release in early 2016, with some regulatory hurdles to leap in the meantime.
Looking ahead, the company’s roadmap extends far beyond the kitchen.
“Expanding into the smart home is a central piece of Energous’ roadmap, and WattUp transmitter deployments into Haier Wireless’ everyday products gives us a broad-reaching channel to do so,” said Rizzone. “This relationship will enable us to create an always-on charging environment in high-traffic areas in homes, offices, retail and commercial spaces. We now have 10 JDAs that will see WattUp transmitter and receiver technology embedded in devices such as smartphones, Wi-Fi routers and now a wide range of household appliances.”
At press time, Haier America, the manufacturer’s North American division, was unsure when or if the wireless power-charging technology would be integrated into majaps for the U.S. market.