FCC Approves Wireless Charging Tech

The federal agency signed off on two technologies capable of delivering an electrical charge from a distance.

by Dwight Silverman, Houston Chronicle / December 28, 2017
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(TNS) — Two competing technologies for delivering wireless charging over the air have been given regulatory nods by the Federal Communications Commission to begin manufacturing and selling wireless power chargers in the United States.

Both Energous Corp. and Powercast Corp. received FCC approval this week for transmitters that convert electricity to radio waves, which are then beamed to devices equipped with receivers. The companies plan to show off their technologies at the upcoming CES electronics show in Las Vegas in January.

San Jose, Calif.-based Energous received an OK for its WattUp Mid-Field wireless transmission technology that can send power at a distance of up to three feet. The technology can also be used to charge devices via contact, similar the more familiar Qi charging pads available now.

PowerCast, of Pittsburgh, won approval for its PowerSpot transmitter that uses a far-field approach, allowing it to charge multiple devices at distances up to 80 feet.

Energous plans to license its technology to manufacturers, and at one point was rumored to be working with Apple. The company has been touting its approach for some time, at one point promising that products using its technology would be available in 2015, then again by the end of 2017.

Powercast will begin building its PowerSpot transmitter now that it has FCC approval. The transmitter is designed for slow, overnight charging transmitted like WiFi over a charging zone. In its news release, it says that "up to 30 devices left in the zone on a countertop or desktop overnight can charge by morning, sharing the transmitter's three-watt (EIRP) power output."

Don't expect to see either of these technologies become available overnight. Deals must be signed with manufacturers, which then must test and develop the feature for use in their products.

©2017 the Houston Chronicle Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.