Firms want to charge phones from a distance

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Firms want to charge phones from a distance

Energous has seen its share price more than double this year, largely on the promise of a smartphone future without electrical outlets or charging mats.

San Jose, California-based Energous is one of a handful of companies racing to introduce technologies that may allow our phones, tablets and smartwatches to be powered from across a room - all at the same time and completely wirelessly. And 2017 may be the year they finally find their way into consumers’ homes.

In the second half of next year, Energous’s technology will be used in a transmitter that can charge devices from three to five feet away using radio waves, according to CEO Steve Rizzone. In 2018, the company hopes to introduce a similar transmitter that can be integrated into devices like flat-screen TVs to juice up gadgets from 15 feet away, Rizzone said in an interview. The company declined to provide details on how much power an Energous device will be able to beam at what distance, or share efficiency data.

Though early wireless charging technologies have been slow to catch on, successful application of so-called Wireless Charging 2.0 would help tech giants and entrepreneurs alike solve the problem of mobility - devices need long battery life to be useful. It would also disrupt a market dominated by Qi technology, which is built into devices including Samsung’s Galaxy S7 and requires placement of a device on a physical charging pad. According to Grand View Research, the wireless-charging market is expected to grow to $22.5 billion by 2022, up from $1.87 billion in 2014.

To be sure, these new technologies still have huge hurdles ahead. Efficiency of power transfer decreases as the distance between transmitter and receiver grows, which means batteries take longer to recharge. At a distance of 15 feet, only a fraction of the charge may actually reach the device. Bloomberg

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