Market Insight

Charging over distance may be closer than we think with new Energous chip

November 02, 2015

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On Wednesday 28th October, Energous announced that it has begun sampling its new Radio Frequency (RF) receiver (Rx) power chip. As the world's first high efficiency RF integrated circuit for wireless power reception, the new Rx IC boasts:

  • Support for four independent Rx antenna inputs of different power ratings
  • Small packaging, designed to enable integration into wearable devices
  • Support for 5.8GHz band and a maximum input power up to 30dBm per port
  • Improved system efficiency versus previous silicon solution

Our analysis

At the end of 2014, it was announced that Energous Corporation had joined the Power Matters Alliance (PMA) and would chair its then newly formed “uncoupled power working group” (UPG).  Since then, uncoupled wireless charging technology has gained a lot of attention in the industry and media. As well as Energous, companies like uBeam and Ossia (Cota wireless charging technology) have helped raise awareness of wireless charging over distance, with regular mentions in the press and technology demonstrations at industry leading events.

At this stage, no uncoupled solutions have been made commercially available just yet. However, the Energous announcement this week is a step in the right direction, and a clear sign that solutions using uncoupled technology are moving closer to market. The new IC is based on Energous' WattUp technology, which connects devices via an RF system. The system software is used to locate the device and focus the radio waves to charge the device automatically.

The solution is designed to power devices that require up to 10 watts of power over a 15 foot distance. The future growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart home networks provides a great example of an application sector that could benefit from this type of technology. With so many small sensors embedded in multiple devices around a room, the devices would require transmission of low power over long periods of time – something that can potentially be offered by uncoupled charging technology.

In the consumer electronics space, this could also be a great use case for low power applications such as wearable devices, which generally have power ratings lower than 2W and require a small form factor.   Despite the relatively slow technological progression we’ve seen in the market for wireless charging in wearable technology to date, IHS predicts that growth over the next 5 years will be rapid, with around 250 million receiver units expected to ship in to the smart watch market alone between 2016 and 2020.  IHS expects the wearable market to see a general shift to wireless charging technologies that provide greater spatial freedom, although significant shipment numbers for uncoupled solutions will not be seen until nearer the end of forecast period.

Gaining adoption into the rest of the consumer electronics market could be harder for uncoupled technologies though - the low power levels could be challenging for other applications like mobile phones and tablets, where growing features and functionality are already driving up the required power rating.

More analysis from IHS: Wireless Power Intelligence Service.

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