Wires as we know them – at least in the context of consumer tech – are quickly going from passé to near extinction. Not only are IoT devices embracing beacons and sensors in lieu of wires, but even smaller accessories like headphones are cutting the cord in an attempt to “untether us” from physical, wired connections.
Despite technically connecting us to our devices, these wires have really only put barriers on the amount of freedom we have to fully utilize our technology. Even in a completely mobile world, for instance, many of us are still attached to our smart phones through wired headpieces – although not likely for long.
This is even more pertinent when you consider battery charging, perhaps the last stand for wires, as the amount of time a wireless device can truly remain unwired has traditionally been dictated by its battery life between periods of being plugged into the wall. Energous, the makers of the charging-at-a-distance solution WattUp, has partnered with us to remove this final barrier from a truly wireless world, a topic we began discussing in the first of our series of Q&A’s with Energous Vice President of Marketing, Gordon Bell.
In this next part of our discussion, we take a look at where wireless charging is going to first make a splash, and how that impact will trickle down into other market segments, as well as our role in taking this market forward.
What product do you see embracing WattUp® primarily as the tech begins reaching new customers?
Wireless charging at-a-distance is a solution that is exciting for a very broad market of potential devices, including small hearables and wearables, sensors, gaming devices, and of course smartphones and tablets. We have already seen products from our early partners during the beginning of 2017, with some of them having announced our partnership at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) this past January. We’ll see a fairly broad application of the WattUp technology and that is expected to expand throughout 2017 and 2018.
For the IoT market, what implications do you see WattUp wireless charging having on that market specifically as this tech proliferates?
In many cases, IoT devices require very small batteries and can be installed or used in difficult to reach areas where battery swap-out or power cords may not be possible or convenient. Our WattUp technology helps in all these instances and allows for a hands-off battery management solution. The goal of WattUp wireless charging is for the user to not have to think about or get involved with battery management or charging anxieties. Another benefit of a WattUp solution is that the IoT devices can be designed to be waterproof by eliminating the power port or battery access panel.
How are you using Dialog’s technologies right now? What are the key benefits you’ve seen from using Dialog?
Currently, Energous has reference designs using Dialog’s Power Management ICs (PMIC) and Bluetooth® low energy (BLE) technologies. Dialog has emerged as the dominant BLE and PMIC semiconductor supplier for the wearable and small form factor IoT market where the WattUp Near Field transmitter and receiver technology has a significant footprint and cost advantages. It was this tactical synergy that served as the basis for developing the strategic agreement we have with Energous today.
What are a few of the immediate goals you have for this collaboration, as well as some long-term priorities, regarding new products or collaborations?
Ultimately, there is the possibility of greater levels of integration of the semiconductors into a common chipset as well as further integration of operational functions. The scope of the partnership covers all of the Energous current and planned product releases including:
Near Field WattUp transmitters: low-cost, contact-based wire-free charging
Mid Field transmitters: true wire free charging power at distances of up to three feet with full mobility
The Far Field transmitters: charging distances of 15 feet or greater
We’re excited to see how WattUp technology will help shape wireless charging and the future innovations fueled as part of the Dialog and Energous partnership. Stay tuned!