On 11th August 2014, Energous Corporation announced a joint development agreement (JDA) with iPowerUp Inc. to develop wire free charging for smart phone battery charging cases and other mobile electronics accessories. This is the seventh JDA that Energous have signed since it went public earlier this year in March, with six of these occurring since May. This would suggest the potential for a number of prototypes using Energous technology emerging by the first quarter of 2015.
Despite market adoption of wireless charging to date being low (just 20 million wireless charging enabling receivers shipped last year), Energous could be classed as a latecomer to the industry. It does however arrive with a potentially disruptive technology which uses RF to charge devices over distance. We’ve seen wireless charging solutions before which use RF try and fail in consumer electronics applications but Energous claims to have created an enhanced solution using 3D “pocketforming” that will allow wireless charging at up to thirty feet.
Our recently published wireless charging consumer insights report based on a survey of one thousand consumers revealed that when respondents who had used existing wireless charging solutions were asked what improvements they would make, the top answer was that their device would charge further away from the charger. To clarify we asked those consumers what sort of range would be acceptable and more than sixty percent answered that they expect to be able to charge from across the room without having to place their device down.
If the solutions from Energous work as it claims, this could deliver the wireless charging experience many consumers imagine when the term “wireless charging” is used. Challenges exist due to the low efficiency of this type of power transfer, the amount of power that can be delivered to each device (which will likely limit its use to low power consumer applications) and of course competition from established “drop and place” wireless charging solutions and infrastructure.
The accessory market has not driven huge adoption in the wireless charging market so far, with almost ninety percent of receiver shipments in 2013 accounted for by those integrated into devices. We predict this trend will continue and getting the technology integrated into devices (e.g. mobile phones) will be crucial for mass adoption of any wireless charging solution.