We pride ourselves on always looking forward, developing technologies that power some of the most innovative products on the market. This is why we pursue strategic partnerships with like-minded companies that also work to keep pushing the tech industry forward, all in the service of building a more connected future.
Enter Energous, the company behind the award-winning WattUp wire-free charging platform that utilizes our SoCs for Bluetooth® low energy connectivity and power management. WattUp is taking wireless charging to new heights by helping to create a permanent solution to the inherent battery “problem” that exists within any cord-free technology. By creating a charging station that only requires proximity, not contact, to effectively juice-up a device’s battery, a dead or dying phone or tablet may no longer be a common scenario for tomorrow’s consumers.
Gordon Bell, Energous’ Vice President of Marketing, took some time to explain how Dialog and Energous will be partnering for an almost completely unwired future. In this first post in a series of Q&As with Bell, we’ll take a deep dive into what exactly “Wireless Charging 2.0” means and how this partnership is helping bring it to fruition:
In your view, what does "wireless charging 2.0" mean and how did we get here?
Wireless Charging 2.0 is the new term for in-the-air charging or charging at-a-distance with mobility, which was born out of a market need for improved charging flexibility. The freedom you get from wireless charging 2.0 vs 1.0 is similar to the differences between Wi-Fi and Ethernet.
Being able to roam around and not worry about plugging in or having to leave your device in a specific area to charge is the huge advancement that consumers have been waiting for.
How does it compare with the previous model?
Wireless 1.0 would be the older, pad-based technologies which we first saw with electric toothbrushes and electric razors. That technology still requires you to drop your device onto a stationary pad and leave it there to charge, which really isn’t much different than placing that device in that same spot and just plugging it into the wall.
As a society, we have become much more reliant on personal and mobile electronics as we all carry a smartphone with us and many of us use fitness bands and other wearables. We already have hundreds of battery-powered devices in our homes and that number is expected to rise exponentially as large numbers of IoT devices, wearables and hearables come to the market with great new features and exciting capabilities.
With WattUp®, users will finally be able to continue using their battery powered gadgets while they charge or maintain battery level. That’s what wireless charging 2.0 really means to consumers.
Are battery and charging technologies meeting the needs of these devices?
All of these devices have an inherent “problem” as a battery will either need to be charged or replaced on a regular basis. Product designers are left with the conundrum of designing their product with a really big, heavy and expensive battery or requiring the user to constantly recharge or replace the battery in their product.
As new features and capabilities are added, those battery pain points are magnified, further compounding the issue. This is why we see an overwhelming interest in a better solution that alleviates the frustration of constant battery charging or replacement.
I understand the first WattUp products to hit the shelves will likely utilize Near Field wireless charging, how does that differ from the more established coil-based wireless charging solutions?
Near Field provides WattUp wireless charging over a few millimeters, which really means placing the device to be charged on the surface of the transmitter when you consider energy need to pass through the body of both the transmitter and receiver devices. So at face value, there would appear to be no difference between this and the coil-based charging mats available today.
The big difference however comes when you move away from coils and move to a Radio or RF-based antennas system. Here the antennas can be realized using simple tracking on the same printed circuit board as the rest of the device. This not only reduces the cost impact of adding wireless charging to a device, it also enables much smaller receivers. For example, we currently have antenna designs measuring just 2x3mm. At that size, wireless charging becomes feasible in products such as hearing aids. Furthermore, because it uses radio waves, the Near Field transmitter pad can charge multiple devices with complete freedom of placement and orientation of devices on the surface.
Stay tuned for more insights from Gordon Bell in the coming weeks as we take a deeper dive into the underlying technology that goes into creating WattUp, as well as the collaborative work Dialog and Energous are planning to undertake in the coming year.