Wireless recharging for devices gets FCC approval

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Jefferson Graham

Your smartphone and other portable devices may soon be truly wireless.

Some of the latest smartphones from Apple, LG, Samsung and others already let you recharge without wires by placing them on a pad. But new technology in the works lets you charge your devices from a distance of three feet or more without any pad involved. 

The Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday approved technology from San Jose, Calif.-based Energous uses radio frequency energy to recharge multiple devices such as smartphones, tablets, smart watches, headphones, speakers, keyboards and fitness trackers from up to three feet away.

Consumers could have an Energous transmitter embedded into their TV, sound bar speaker or mounted elsewhere in a living room and any devices with built-in receivers could be automatically recharged.

“Untethered, wire-free charging — such as charging a fitness band even while wearing it — is exactly what consumers have been waiting for,” said Energous CEO and president Stephen Rizzone in a statement. “We are now in a position to move our consumer electronics, IoT and smart home customers forward at an accelerated pace.”

Another company, Pittsburgh-headquartered Powercast, got FCC approval Dec. 22 for its transmitter, which uses similar technology to recharge devices with receivers inside from up to 80 feet away and plans to have products out in the third quarter of 2018.

“Consumer electronics manufacturers can now confidently build our FCC-approved technology into their wireless charging ecosystems, and offer their customers convenient far-field charging where devices charge over the air from a power source without needing direct contact,” said Charles Green, chief technology officer at Powercast, in a statement.

Don’t get too excited, because there’s many advances — and deals — needed before your favorite devices have the on-board receiver chips and rechargeable power supplies. 

However, expect more updates soon from the two companies as both plan to be exhibiting at the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show Jan. 9-12, 2018 in Las Vegas.

Follow USA TODAY reporter Mike Snider on Twitter: @MikeSnider.

 

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