Apple is reportedly working with Energous to develop long-distance wireless charging technology, following rumors that surfaced last week which claim that Apple is working on next-generation wireless charging technology.
According to the earlier rumors, Apple is looking to have iPhones and iPads charge from a further distance compared to the current method of using wireless charging mats. A report claims that Apple is working with partners in the United States and Asia for this wireless charging technology, which could be launched by as early as next year.
Energous is known to be the company which developed WattUp, an emerging wireless charging technology which uses radio frequencies. Through this technology, users will be able to charge up the batteries of their devices even when they are up to 15 feet away.
Up to 12 devices can be charged simultaneously by WattUp, which uses a method that Energous said is similar to Wi-Fi. The WattUp system involves a Power Router, which uses a radio frequency signal to emit energy. The signal is then converted into power that can charge up batteries by devices that have a WattUp receiver.
According to Apple news website MacRumors, there is no concrete evidence to prove a partnership between the two companies. However, a research report by Disruptive Tech Research's Louis Basenese reveals circumstantial proof of such a collaboration.
Basenese thinks that Apple is not doing the research in-house, as the company has only filed five patents, with the last one in 2013. This would point to the fact that Apple has tapped a partner for the development of the next-generation wireless charging technology.
Basenese, on the other hand, believes that Energous is the company that Apple tapped as its partner for the endeavor, for a variety of reasons. First, Apple and Energous have Foxconn and TSMC as common manufacturing partners. Second, the companies have an ANSI membership for the development of wireless power transfer compliance testing standards. Third, and perhaps most notable, is that the radio frequency-based wireless charging technology of Energous is almost ready to be launched, the only long-distance system that can make that claim.
In early 2015, Energous was reported to have agreed to a deal with an unnamed consumer electronics firm which is one of the top five companies all over the world. The short list of names include Apple, HP, Samsung, Hitachi and Microsoft.
According to Basenese, Apple is the most likely company involved in the report. Applying the process of elimination, Hitachi and HP can be ruled out as they do not manufacture smartphones. Samsung can also be crossed of the list as the company manufactures its own chips, but Energous has a partnership in place with TSMC. Lastly, Microsoft can be disregarded as while it has a smartphone business it is struggling mightily.
If Apple is looking to release long-distance wireless charging technology in 2017, radio-frequency based wireless charging is the safest bet as, compared to other technologies, it is further along in development.
Examples of other wireless charging technology is Cota, another radio frequency-enabled system that will not be releasing its development kits until the end of the year; uBeam, an ultrasound-based wireless charging system that is in the early prototype stages; and Wi-Charge and LaserMotive, which are both laser-based charging systems that are also in the prototype stages. LaserMotive in addition, was not developed particularly to be used in smartphones.