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WattUp takes RF approach to wire-free wearables charging

Posted: 05 Aug 2014  Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:wireless charging  RF  WattUp 

U.S.-based start-up Energous makes an RF push to power wearable devices and accessories up to 10W, bringing wire-free charging to the promising wearables market as products using coil-based wireless charging standards roll out.

Using the Energous' WattUp platform, devices are connected via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Low Energy at 2.4GHz to 2.5GHz as well as 5.7GHz to 5.8GHz. Bluetooth locates the device in need of charging and focuses the radio waves to charge the devices automatically.

Founder and CTO Michael Leabman told EE Times:

We focus the wave format in three dimensions. If you put our transmitter on the ceiling, wall, or bookshelf, instead of sending energy everywhere, we take advantage of room and reflections to focus the energy and surround the device in 3D space. By controlling energy and using reflections...we're essentially surrounding that device so the energy only adds up in one location.

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Energous' "WattUp" technology uses radio frequency to charge devices. Source: Energous

Rather than rely on a single high-powered antenna, Energous' technology uses a material that packs many antennas on its transmitter and receiver for a stronger signal. The company's first receiver/transmitter reference design can simultaneously charge four devices with a 2W average, up to a 15ft distance in half the time of a traditional plug.

"We want to free you from ever thinking about plugging in your device. You walk into your home, and [the charge] finds you," Leabman said.

While the technology could power handsets, mobile devices, and the IoT, Energous' strategy is to focus on wearable devices and accessories that are 10W or less. Easy entry and a short development cycle will be key to implementing RF technology, Leabman noted.

IHS Analyst Ryan Sanderson told EE Times:

It's a viable technology if it can be done correctly and if it can meet all of the efficiency requirements. This could be an example of what the consumer really imagines as wireless charging when they first hear about it—they often compare it to Wi-Fi. You're receiving small amounts of power continuously when you're in vicinity of a transmitter; I don't think it's aimed at giving your device a full charge from bottom to top, but rather a top-up approach.


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