Energous shows wireless charging via Bluetooth

Devices can be charged without wires from up to 20 feet away.

Wireless power has been a lab experiment for Intel for a few years now, and a few companies like Qi and PMA have managed to get a few devices on the market, but the power transmission was only good for a few feet.

A startup called Energous is showing off wireless power charging at the Consumer Electronics Show that could be a game changer, because Energous claims its wireless power system, called WattUp, can power up a device from up to 20 feet away.

WattUp uses a hub, or what it calls a power router, that is basically a powerful RF transmitter using the 900MHz spectrum. The power router scans the local environment for devices, which announce their presence via Bluetooth 4.0. Power is then transmitted via Bluetooth to the device. A custom Energous ASIC then converts the RF signal to DC current.

Proximity is still an issue, and the closer you are to the power router, the more power you will get. Also, while power routers can charge multiple devices at once, a number of devices will slow down the charging process.

What's rather neat is that Energous also has proprietary technology that can hand off the power charging process from one hub to another, just like when you move around your cell phone connection is handed off from one tower to another without dropping the connection.

The Energous software also recognizes the state of your devices. Say your cell phone is fully charged but your tablet is low. It will stop feeding the cell phone and shift to the tablet.

Energous still has to address the issues of spectrum – it uses the same spectrum as cordless phones – and how it will secure devices. You all know stories about neighbors leeching unsecured Wi-Fi. The same thing could happen with this.

All that said, it's an encouraging development and I look forward to a few less wires in my house.

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