Early iPhone X rumors claimed that it would be the first Apple smartphone to ship with support for wireless charging. But rather than require the use of a wireless charging pad, the iPhone would recharge wirelessly at a considerable distance. That turned out to be wishful thinking. The iPhone X does have wireless charging, but it’s the same kind of wireless charging that we’ve seen in countless other devices already.
Fast-forward to today, when Energous (the company rumored to be working with Apple on long-range wireless charging) announced the FCC approved technology that allows devices to charge up to three feet away from a charger.
Energous demoed its WattUp long-range wireless charging products time and again, suggesting that Apple’s iPhone may be a customer. But other reports indicated that WattUp batteries can’t possibly be featured on iPhones as long as the FCC doesn’t support wireless devices that charge at a distance.
Energous says this is the first FCC certification of “power-at-a-distance wireless charging under Part 18 of the FCC’s rules.” Those rules allow for higher-power operations than the Part 15 rules used to approve other long distance charging devices.
The device that was just certified is the first-gen WattUp Mid Field transmitter, which sends focused RF-based power to devices at a distance:
The company’s WattUp Mid Field transmitter can deliver power via radio frequency (RF) energy to WattUp-enabled electronic devices at a distance of up to three feet. As the only technology that can do both contact-based and non-contact-based wireless charging, as well as charge multiple devices at once, WattUp is highly scalable and automatically charges devices, as needed, until they are topped off.
The technology will be demoed at CES 2018, so we’ll have to wait a while until Energous and its partner Dialog Semiconductor announce what devices will support it. The press release does hint that WattUp tech may be used to recharge smartphones and smartwatches:
“This ground-breaking technology allows users to automatically charge their WattUp-enabled devices without having to remove them from their wrist or pocket, plug them in or place them on a mat to charge, freeing them from ever having to think about charging their devices again,” Energous Board of Directors member and ‘Father of the Cell Phone’ Martin Cooper said.