Competing Wireless Charging Technologies
Several wireless charging technologies have been developed over the years. One of the more popular ones is “Qi,” an inductive charging technology that requires the device that needs to be charged to stay in a fixed location. You wouldn’t need to “plug” anything into the device, but because you still need to hold it in a fixed location, the degree of additional convenience it offers isn’t that significant.
Another more promising technology, “Rezence,” does “magnetic resonance” charging and allows a greater degree of freedom in regards to where you can place your devices. The devices only need to be placed in the near vicinity of the charger.
However, the larger the distance between the charger and the device that needs to be charged, the less efficient the charging is. Plus, Rezence appeared a little later compared to Qi, so Qi benefited from some first-mover advantages such as increased adoption.
More recently the “AirFuel Alliance” was formed, which supports both the Rezence charging standard, as well as Qi-like inductive charging. The alliance was formed so it could compete more directly against the Wireless Power Consortium, the group behind the Qi standard.
The WPC and the AirFuel Alliance have largely the same industry players backing them, with a notable difference being that Apple joined the WPC earlier this year, while Intel joined the AirFuel Alliance.
WattUp Increases Charging Range
WattUp is a wireless charging technology that can charge devices up to a distance of 15 feet. However, as we mentioned, the efficiency drops significantly with longer distances, so Energous seems to have standardized its technology for up to three feet.
The WattUp technology is able to convert electricity into radio waves in the 5.8GHz band and then the receiver that comes built into devices will be able to capture those waves and charge. WattUp-enabled devices will also be able to charge “on contact,” similarly to Qi-enabled devices. This will provide faster and more efficient charging.
Energous was previously rumored to partner with Apple, but it doesn’t look like that deal was made in the end. Energous said that it will demo its technology at the next Consumer Electronics Show (CES), between January 9 and 12, in Las Vegas.