Apple has reportedly signed a deal with a startup company to bring its wireless charging technology, which “works like Wi-Fi,” to this year’s iPhone 7. Energous’ WattUp uses a transmitter to sent energy to devices up to 15 feet away.
As demonstrated in the video below, WattUp consists of a “Power Router” that sends energy via a radio frequency (RF) signal to compatible devices. Up to 12 devices can be connected simultaneously, and they can all be controlled by software.
“Highly targeted pockets of energy are delivered via multiple miniature antenna arrays and custom control chips in the transmitter, or Power Router,” explains Energous. “Energy harvesting of the micro energy beams from these pockets then takes place via paired antenna arrays and custom chips in the receiver devices.”
In the demonstration, the iOS devices are equipped with special cases, but Apple could theoretically embed the WattUp receivers into future products, so add-ons aren’t required. And according to a report from BGR, that’s exactly what could be about to happen for iPhone 7.
“There is a good amount of evidence out there to suggest that Energous has landed a major partner with which it will bring its technology to market, and that its partner is Apple,” writes Zach Epstein, who goes onto suggest it will be “the biggest technological advancement in smartphones since Apple released the original iPhone.”
That may be slightly hyperbolic, but it could certainly be a huge move.
WattUp eliminates one of the biggest downsides to wireless charging today, which is that a device must maintain contact with a charging pad to receive energy. With WattUp, you can move around with your device within the 15 feet radius, and it will continue to charge.
What isn’t totally clear is whether WattUp can eliminate another big downside, which is charging speeds. Today’s wireless charging technologies are much slower than charging with a cable, and that means topping up your devices in a hurry is difficult without plugging them in.
But you can be sure Apple wouldn’t bother with this technology if it wasn’t pretty special. It certainly wouldn’t adopt a wireless charging standard that is worse than what we already have. We’ll have to wait until the iPhone 7 gets its official unveiling this fall to see if Apple really has reached a deal with Energous to bring WattUp to iPhone 7.
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