Energous’ WattUp wireless charging—working at distances up to 3 feet—gets FCC approval

Energous said its WattUp charging technology can charge multiple devices in a room wirelessly. (Energous Corporation)

Energous Corporation said the FCC approved its WattUp Mid Field transmitter, a move that paves the way for the company to sell technology it says can wirelessly charge devices that are up to three feet away. Investors roared their approval of the news, tripling the value of Energous’ stock.

"Older wireless charging technologies have received limited adoption over the past 15 years, and are confined to contact-based charging only. The FCC certification of Energous' power-at-a-distance wireless charging transmitter is a major market milestone. It opens up options, outside of just contact-based charging, to Wireless Charging 2.0: an ecosystem where devices can be charged both, via pad and at a distance," Stephen Rizzone, Energous’ CEO, said in a release from the company issued late last week. "Untethered, wire-free charging—such as charging a fitness band even while wearing it—is exactly what consumers have been waiting for. We are now in a position to move our consumer electronics, IoT and smart home customers forward at an accelerated pace."

Investors sent the company’s shares spiking after the news, from around $10 per share to as high as around $31 per share. The event even elicited a tweet from the FCC’s chairman.

Energous expects the first WattUp-compatible devices to be hearing aids and other relatively simple wearable devices, according to Bloomberg BNA. Smartphones and tablets could follow as soon as 2019, he told the publication. A number of reports have linked Energous to iPhone maker Apple, though neither company has confirmed any concrete partnership.

As VentureBeat noted, the FCC’s approval is critical because it verifies that the wireless technology meets “consumer safety and regulatory requirements”—and therefore largely opens the door for a commercial rollout.

Apple’s new iPhones, as well as other Samsung and LG devices, currently support contactless charging. That technology allows users to charge devices by placing them on a physical charging pad. Energous’ wireless charging technology, on the other hand, could charge multiple devices anywhere within a given coverage area via wireless transmission.

As VentureBeat noted, Energous is also working on technologies that would charge objects from across the room. Energous is scheduled to show off its WattUp technology at next week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.