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Energous unveils tiny wireless charger for wearables
You may remember Energous and it’s rather ingenious radio wireless charging hub that it showcases at last year’s CES. Well the company is back this year, showing off some a new wireless charging chip that could be used to power up your future wearable products.
The new device that the company has been showing off is a simple looking USB dongle, which features Energous’ new small form factor and lower cost RF charging IC. The chip measures just 3 x 3 mm, meaning that it is perfectly suitable for wearables. However, Energous still doesn’t have any products on the shelves yet, so it has housed the IC in a USB dongle that can connect up to other wearable charging ports.
Energous demonstrated the chip charging a Fitbit, a Bluetooth headset and a LED light system at around 6-inches away from the charging hub. At this distance, the chip still managed to provide the same amount of power as their respective wired chargers do. Furthermore, a USB solution like this shouldn’t add a notable cost over a regular charging dock.
As a recap, Energous’ main wireless RF hub that was unveiled last year and costs around $200 to $300 is able to provide power over quite long distances. It is capable of delivering 5.5 watts of power to devices 5 feet from the hub, around 3.5 watts of power at 10 feet, and 1 watt from 15 feet. The hub uses Bluetooth to locate and target power to receivers, and can also be used to charge multiple devices at once.
“We want to free your mobile devices, or any device less than 10 watts— whether it’s a wearable, mobile device, bluetooth headset—anything that requires power, we want to cut the cord” – Michael Leabman, founder and CTO of Energeous
At CES 2016, the company also announced a new “pocketable” energy router with a much smaller range, which is designed to replace the wired charging hubs that typically ship with today’s wearable products. Again, this technology is all based on radio energy transmission rather than the inductive charging methods used by the likes of Qi or the PMA standards, but is a lower cost alternative to the main router.
Energous is still to convince major mobile manufacturing partners to opt for its technology. The company has been sending evaluation units out and also has a contract with a “tier one” manufacturer, but can’t reveal much more than that. The company is to produce millions of chips and transmitters for the unspecified device, which will launch around the end of the year.