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FCC Approves WattUp Long-Range Wireless Charging

Energous announced that its long-range wireless charging technology, “WattUp,” is now the first of its kind to be certified by the FCC.

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.

  • rbarone69
    I wonder if this would interfere with pacemakers etc...
    Reply
  • derekullo
    Tesla would be proud.

    Although his long range was much farther than 15 feet.
    Reply
  • bit_user
    I'm open-minded, but skeptical. Can anyone explain (with references, if possible) why we think this is safe? Otherwise, I plan to play it safe and stick with inductive charging. Something about microwaving my phone in my pocket just seems like a Bad Idea.

    As nice as it'd be to have wireless keyboard and mouse that never needed either charging or battery replacement, I won't be an early adopter of this tech.

    BTW, as far as I know, the mandate of the FCC doesn't include health & safety concerns. In which case, their approval is merely a statement concerning interference with other devices and radio transmissions.
    Reply
  • tigerwild
    And now we run into issues where too much power is put into the air of your household and people end up going blind or otherwise mildly cooking their bodies...worse than we already are. Imagine the average person putting their charger base station 6 inches from their arm chair to charge a device 15 feet away (with human body in between). It would be about as dangerous as leaving the microwave oven door open while cooking...
    Reply
  • derekullo
    20527506 said:
    I'm open-minded, but skeptical. Can anyone explain (with references, if possible) why we think this is safe? Otherwise, I plan to play it safe and stick with inductive charging. Something about microwaving my phone in my pocket just seems like a Bad Idea.

    As nice as it'd be to have wireless keyboard and mouse that never needed either charging or battery replacement, I won't be an early adopter of this tech.

    BTW, as far as I know, the mandate of the FCC doesn't include health & safety concerns. In which case, their approval is merely a statement concerning interference with other devices and radio transmissions.

    Low energy microwaves are fine.

    Most people see the word radiation and instantly start thinking of nuclear bombs and skin cancer.

    The reality is radiation is all around you.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electromagnetic_radiation#/media/File:EM_spectrumrevised.png

    Radio Microwave Infrared Visible Ultraviolet X-Ray Gamma Ray

    All of these are made of photons with increasing frequency as you go down the line.

    When you are low in the list, below X-Ray, the property of light that is most damaging is its amplitude.


    Think of it as waves hitting the shore.

    Millions upon millions of waves hit the shore every day at a pretty high frequency, but nobody really cares.


    And so if you are scared of low amplitude microwaves than you must be absolutely terrified of low amplitude visible light.

    Visible light has a higher frequency than microwaves.

    Your microwave at your house simply bombards your food with high amplitude microwaves.


    On the low end you have low energy radio waves, such as RFID, being the occasional ripple on a glassy smooth pond.

    On the high end you have gamma rays.

    A low energy gamma ray would be a bunch of 50 foot tsunamis hitting the coast at a highly unrealistic 10^20 times a second.

    A high energy gamma ray would be like the shore getting hit with 1000 foot tall tsunamis at a highly unrealistic 10^20 times a second.

    Reply
  • photon123
    I have been following this company for some time and my impression is that this is a total scam done only with the intention of selling shares to the public. Their approved transmitter is not an actual product. They say it themselves. It was only built with the intention of getting FCC approval. This transmitter is unsafe. It requires a motion sensor that detects breathing with 100% reliability. If there is a human or an animal in front of the device, it shuts down. What happens if the motion sensor fails to detect you? Are you willing to take the risk? The charged device also needs to be positioned in a small region and oriented towards the charger. It probably also needs a large antenna. Despite all this, the power delivered is minuscule. This will not charge your phone in any reasonable amount of time.
    Reply
  • lorfa
    20527949 said:
    This transmitter is unsafe. It requires a motion sensor that detects breathing with 100% reliability.

    Citation please.

    Reply
  • photon123
    You can read the documents they submitted to the FCC:
    https://fccid.io/2ADNG-MS300
    The device they got certified is quite useless, yet it is still shocking it was approved by the FCC. I don't understand how the FCC approved a device based on its motion detector being 100% reliable in detecting nearby humans. Maybe the FCC decided that consumer protection is overrated. First net neutrality. Now this.
    Reply
  • bit_user
    20527774 said:
    Low energy microwaves are fine.
    Please quantify "low energy" and "fine" in terms of W and cumulative exposure vs. effects.

    20527774 said:
    And so if you are scared of low amplitude microwaves than you must be absolutely terrified of low amplitude visible light.
    Define low-amplitude. If someone shot a 4 W laser at me, I'd be pretty unhappy. If someone bathed me in 4 W of UV light, I'd also be upset.

    20527774 said:
    Your microwave at your house simply bombards your food with high amplitude microwaves.
    And how does it relate to the amplitude needed for practical wireless charging @ 15' or even 3'?

    20527774 said:
    A low energy gamma ray would be a bunch of 50 foot tsunamis hitting the coast at a highly unrealistic 10^20 times a second.

    A high energy gamma ray would be like the shore getting hit with 1000 foot tall tsunamis at a highly unrealistic 10^20 times a second.
    Why are you talking about gamma rays?

    That post was entirely unhelpful.
    Reply
  • bit_user
    20527949 said:
    This transmitter is unsafe. It requires a motion sensor that detects breathing with 100% reliability. If there is a human or an animal in front of the device, it shuts down. What happens if the motion sensor fails to detect you?
    Assuming this is true, we should also be concerned about hackers and malware.

    "Please send 0.1 BTC to the following address or I'll fry your brain".

    ...worse yet, if it were installed in a self-driving car and the hacker could lock the doors. Some people might not be strong enough to break the windows.

    20528317 said:
    The device they got certified is quite useless, yet it is still shocking it was approved by the FCC. I don't understand how the FCC approved a device based on its motion detector being 100% reliable in detecting nearby humans. Maybe the FCC decided that consumer protection is overrated.
    I doubt their mandate includes assessing either usefulness or safety.
    Reply