Cell Phone Inventor Says “Next Big Thing” is Wireless Charging


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The first handheld cell phone, built by Motorola executive and researcher Marty Cooper, was introduced in 1973. Now Cooper is looking ahead to the future of cell phones, and in a conversation with CNNMoney, he explored innovations in wireless charging technology. The tech-savvy consumer of the future will have not only a cell phone to charge, but also a variety of connected accessories, like smart glasses and watches. “You won’t want to take all them off and plug them in,” Cooper said. “That’s why they ought to be charging all the time.”

Several companies are in the running to take the reins on wireless charging innovations, including Wi-Charge, which proposes using lasers, and U-Beam, which wants to power phones with sound waves, according to CNNMoney, but Cooper believes that Energous (WATT), which is developing technology to charge devices using radio frequencies, will ultimately prevail. The Energous transmitter converts radio waves into power, allowing equipped gadgets to charge from anywhere in the range of the transmitter. “It won’t involve any active participation by the customer, and the best technology is invisible,” Cooper said. 

Energous has already developed a miniature transmitter, the Miniature WattUp, which uses embedded chips to charge hearing aids and other very small devices. The sizes of compatible devices and transmitters, as well as the distance across which the devices may be charged, will only increase over time.

“Energous is one large step closer to fulfilling its vision of bringing wire-free charging to consumers,” Cooper said. CEO Steve Rizzone told CNNMoney, that Energous must first seek FCC approval, which will involve persuading the agency to reinterpret its regulations for wireless charging, which is not addressed in its current rules. The next step for Energous will be partnering with device manufacturers to make devices compatible with its wireless charging technology.  

March 21, 2018      

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