When you think of wireless chargers for mobile devices, you probably think of inductive charging pads like the Powermat and Wildcharge. But Haier and Energous are thinking bigger – much bigger. The two companies are joining forces to turn household appliances, such as fridges and washing machines, into chargers for mobile devices. Not only that, they will be using the WattUp technology developed by Energous that allows devices to be charged at a distance.
China-based Haier is one of the world's biggest white goods manufacturers, producing everything from fridges, TVs and microwaves to washing machines, dryers and stoves. Meanwhile, California-based Energous is responsible for WattUp, a wire-free charging technology that transmits power to mobile devices over the same radio bands as a Wi-Fi router – no cables or charging mats required.
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The signing of a joint development agreement (JDA) will see the two companies collaborating to put the WattUp technology into household appliances so they can wirelessly power up a person's mobile devices as they move about the home rather than being tied to a specific location by a cable or mat.
Haier hasn't revealed exactly which types of appliances it is likely to embed with the WattsUp technology, but with the kitchen often centrally located in the home and current WattsUp devices able to transmit 4 W of power over a radius of 15-ft (4.5 m), it would make sense that a fridge would be a prime candidate. However, the transmission range can be extended through the use of multiple antennas.
WattsUp also requires the devices being charged to have receiving antennas and Energous has previously announced deals with a number of mobile accessory manufacturers that will see such technology embedded in products such as smartphone cases.
"Our agreement with Haier Wireless brings Energous full-circle in establishing a complete wire-free charging ecosystem," said Stephen R. Rizzone, CEO of Energous. "We now have 10 JDAs that will see WattUp transmitter and receiver technology embedded in devices such as smartphones, Wi-Fi routers and now a wide range of household appliances. With WattUp transmitters in the spaces where consumers spend the majority of their time, collective behaviors around charging devices will be forever changed."