Yesterday, we told you guys about a cool smartphone case that proposed to “capture” the energy outputted by your phone and convert it into usable DC energy. The idea is cool, sure, but many of you questioned the practical purpose, technical validity and even whether the technology exists.
Well, we can tell you the technology does exist. RF energy harvesting is a real thing, so there should be no question in that regard. It’s the application of said technology that makes the difference between revolutionary invention and wet dream.
Energous‘ forthcoming product — dubbed WattUp — is of the former variety, we believe. Like yesterday’s featured case, WattUp aims to capture RF energy and convert it into usable DC power, only it’s not claiming to be sucking up your phone’s excess power for its source of RF goodness. Instead, you set up a unit whose sole dedicated purpose is to blast RF energy, and your device — perhaps one with a proper case — captures that pocket of energy to be used for charging the device.
You can see this in action in the demo video above, where the gracious CEO demonstrates a cellphone that is being charged wirelessly, and without a charging pad, to boot. Here’s a quick explanation of it in layman’s terms, if you prefer:
WattUp™ uses pocket-forming technology to accurately direct energy to the receiver. By dynamically adjusting the shape and content of the RF waves they can be directed to a specific location in 3D space. There, the energy is gathered by the receiver’s metamaterial array where WattUp™ ASICs convert the RF signal to DC current, delivering a charge.
Needing a case for this sort of thing isn’t the most ideal, we’d say, but it’s what the company is doing in the area of logistics that has us most excited. Their aim is to get RF harvesting systems inside your tablets, smartphones and smart watches as standard, and they claim they’re already in talks with major OEMs to make that happen.
It’s also worth noting that the approach is two-pronged, as they are also exploring razor-thin units that can be put inside televisions, refrigerator doors or what have you. The hope is that you can have a home or office where needing bulky cables and wireless charging pads are a thing of the past. Simply walk inside, and you’re juicing up. How cool is that?
Oh, and if you had any concerns regarding its potential impact on health, WattUp maintains that their system is no more harmful than wearing a smartphone in your breastplate pocket all day long. Take that for what you will.
Unfortunately we still seem to be a moderate stretch away from seeing this thing seed into the market. The technology isn’t expected to be ready for about another year and a half, and it might be longer still before we see any OEMs implement it in a meaningful way. Either way, this is the sort of stuff we need to mitigate the downsides of modern battery technology while we wait for other breakthroughs, and we can’t wait to see what happens next!