Extending the Range of Wireless Charging

by Briton Lee

Wireless charging has been quite prominent in recent years, and the implications of the technology is obvious, bypassing the need for any physical connection to power any device with energy. However, the technology is still limited and in its early stages, and the implementation of wireless energy is highly restricted by distance, as it was when it was initially introduced in 2009 with the Palm Pre (Miller 2009). Currently, this technology is seen mostly in wireless charging mats that are only slightly more convenient than plugging in a device. However, during the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the company Energous debuted their work on long range wireless charging, WattUp. The technology attempts to achieve the goal of never having to worry about charging devices again. While this extent of wireless charging has been introduced before, there were problems with being able to scale up the efficiency. However, Energous has come a long way since it was established in 2012 as WattUp is able to achieve over 70% efficiency (charging mats are approximately 90% efficient) (Souppouris 2015).

The way the charging works is similar to how Wi-Fi works – the WattUp router is able to send out a radio frequency that can be converted by proprietary receivers into energy. These receivers are relatively small, and can be integrated into just about anything by electronic manufacturers. For example, at CES they were able to demonstrate the charging capabilities of the router using a phone with an extended case containing the receiver. It might seem that outputting such a level of energy constantly would have adverse effects, but since it is the same technology as Wi-Fi, it can be extrapolated that there will be no adverse effects related to this technology. There may be an additional worry that WattUp wastes energy if energy is constantly being output, but the receivers and router communicate with each other via Bluetooth to determine whether it needs to be charged. There is a lot of promise in this developing technology, but it may have some unforeseen consequences. It is possible that it will contribute to needless charging of devices, and promote the idea that energy is limitless as we become more and more removed from where our energy comes from.

Souppouris, Aaron. 2015. Engadget. “This router can power your devices wirelessly from 15 feet away”. (http://www.engadget.com/2015/01/05/energous-wattup-wireless-charging-demo/).

Miller, Paul. 2009. Engadget. “Palm Pre’s wireless charger, the Touchstone”. (http://www.engadget.com/2009/01/08/palm-pres-wireless-charger/).

Energous: WattUp™ Overview. (http://www.energous.com/overview/).

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