Earlier today we wrote about Engerous Corporation’s new technology that can charge devices from 3 feet away. The company won FCC approval for the technology which we could most likely see at CES 2018. Anytime a new technology is introduced, there is bound to be skeptics and those who question said technology. One expert is already calling this technology developed by Energous a pipe-dream. Cliff Weinstein, CEO of FLI Charge, says a surface dive into the science proves it is neither safe nor practical and encourages enthusiasts and investors to look at the technology’s realistic usability and limitations before buying into the hype:
“Through-air power transfer would be a dream come true. Unfortunately, in reality, it’s not possible to do this practically or safely today due to a few basic physical properties that cannot be overcome. The low-level, through-air signal may charge a small device, but anything that has a greater power requirement would make this unreliable and not practical – who wants to wait over 100 hours to charge an iPhone X?”
Weinstein’s company has experience working with automotive and industrial RADAR applications, dealing extensively with FCC regulations and safe transmit levels. He also followed up with two reasons and limitations why this technology is a “pipe-dream.”
Limitation #1 – transmitter proximity
“The initial problem is the power delivery must remain very low when keeping within the FCC safety levels. Staying very close to the transmitter offers the optimum power delivery, but defeats the purpose of freedom of movement – the main marketing point and perceived benefit of the technology. Power levels drop off exponentially as the distance away from the transmitter increases, meaning the field strength must be increased or focused. Like walking through a powered-on microwave oven, increasing the power levels would have severe detrimental human effects. As long as biological humans are the end-users of the technology, this physical limitation makes this technology impractical.”
Limitation #2 – charge rates
“Typical charge rates for devices are in watts, not milliwatts (1000th of a watt), and most phones charge at 5 watts or greater. A milliwatt signal cannot maintain a charge on today’s phones or other electronic devices. Mathematically, the phone would need to be turned off and stationary, positioned very close to the transmitter before any charging would occur. The low-level, through-air signal may charge a small device, such as a micro wearable, but anything that has a greater power requirement would make this unreliable and not practical – who wants to wait over 100 hours to charge an iPhone X?”
Weinstein makes some interesting points in his criticism of Energous and their over-air charging tech. It will be interesting to see if the company can deliver on the idea or if it does end up being nothing but wishful thinking.