iPhone 8 May Use Apple’s In-House Inductive Wireless Charging Rather Than Technology From Energous

Over the course of the last year, there has been ongoing speculation that wireless charging company Energous has inked a deal with Apple and could potentially provide wireless charging technology for the upcoming iPhone 8.

While Energous CEO Steve Rizzone has continually hinted that his company has established an agreement with "one of the largest consumer electronic companies in the world," leading people to believe the partner is Apple, a new investor's note from Copperfield Research outlines why Apple has no plans to use Energous' WattUp radio frequency-based wireless charging solution.

Copperfield Research examined multiple inductive charging patent applications filed by Apple starting in 2013, which now number more than a dozen, suggesting the patents are a clear indication of Apple's desire to pursue its own in-house inductive charging solutions for future products. Inductive charging, widely used today, relies on magnetic coils to provide power rather than radio waves.

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An image from an Apple patent covering inductive charging

The patents by themselves are not a clear indication of Apple's plans, but in one patent filed in 2011, Apple makes its feelings on radio frequency-based charging clear, calling it "very inefficient," "not practical," and potentially hazardous. In the interest of full disclosure, however, the patent was filed before any prospective relationship with Energous.
However, this type of radiative transfer is very inefficient because only a tiny portion of the supplied or radiated power, namely, that portion in the direction of, and overlapping with, the receiver is picked up. The vast majority of the power is radiated away in all the other directions and lost in free space. Such inefficient power transfer may be acceptable for data transmission, but is not practical for transferring useful amounts of electrical energy for the purpose of doing work, such as for charging electrical devices. [...]

In addition, such schemes may pose hazards to objects or people that cross or intersect the beam when modest to high amounts of power are being transmitted.
Furthermore, Copperfield Research suggests both rumored design decisions and recent news that Apple has partnered with Lite-On Semiconductor for wireless charging bridge rectifiers are indications of Apple's plan to use inductive charging.

Bridge rectifiers, explains Copperfield Research, are used to convert alternating current (AC) to direct current (DC), a component needed for inductive charging and one that would not be necessary should Apple be relying on an all-in-one module from Energous.

Apple's rumored decision to use a glass body also reportedly points towards inductive charging. A glass body would not be required for RF-based wireless charging technology, but is needed for an inductive charging solution.
Adding further credence to Apple's inductive charging roadmap are the consistent leaks from Asian sources that the next iPhone will feature glass casing. Inductive charging does not penetrate aluminum cases effectively, which is the material for the current iPhone casing. One reason Samsung adopted plastic material for its cases is to improve the performance of wireless charging.

A major misperception among tech blogs and WATT investors is that Apple's switch to a glass casing somehow confirms the inclusion of WATT's charging technology. This is ridiculous. The efficacy of RF wireless charging (WATT's technology) is not affected by aluminum or plastic cases.
Many of Apple's inductive charging patents outline the improvements Apple has made in the field over the course of the last few years and give hints as to how wireless charging could work if Apple is indeed developing an in-house inductive charging solution for the iPhone 8.

Patents point towards multiple objects that could provide power, such as a table top with a charging coil built in, a desktop charging station, or even a desktop or notebook computer, which could be used to provide power to an iPhone or iPad. Devices could even share power between one another, suggesting a fully charged iPad could charge an iPhone, or vice versa.

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An image from an Apple patent covering inductive charging

Copperfield Research does believe that Apple had a partnership with Energous that gave the Cupertino-based company a way to research radio frequency-based charging without shelling out cash, but concludes that there is an "overwhelmingly conclusive mosaic" suggesting Apple will use in-house inductive charging for the iPhone 8.

Copperfield Research is made up of an anonymous group of researchers that have shorted Watt's stock and may not be entirely impartial, but the evidence they have presented makes a compelling argument for the use of an in-house inductive charging solution rather than a partnership with Energous.

Related Roundup: iPhone 8 (2017)
Tags: wireless charging, Energous

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Energous Says Its Truly Wireless Charging Technology Will Ship Later This Year — In Next iPhone?

Amid rumors that Apple will release its first iPhone models with wireless charging capabilities as early as this year, its possible partner Energous has told The Verge that its first truly wireless transmitters will begin shipping by the end of 2017, over two years after it first introduced the technology.

wattup
Energous CEO Steve Rizzone also dropped yet another hint suggesting its partner is indeed Apple. "One of the largest consumer electronic companies in the world," he said. "I cannot tell you who it is, but I can virtual guarantee that you have products from this company on your person, sitting on your desk, or at home."

Energous is the company behind WattUp, a truly wire-free, over-the-air charging technology that uses radio frequencies to charge devices from up to 15 feet away. If you walked into a room with a WattUp transmitter, for example, a smartphone with a built-in WattUp receiver would automatically begin charging.


Energous today announced that its WattUp technology will be embedded in six products on display at CES 2017 this week, such as the Chipolo Plus Bluetooth tracker and a SK Telesys hearing aid, but these implementations will require small, contact-based, portable transmitters rather than the larger, truly wireless transmitters coming.

The company said these early devices integrated with WattUp receiver technology will be able to seamlessly transition from being charged by the contact-based transmitters to forthcoming larger transmitters that offer over-the-air charging at-a-distance of up to 15 feet, seemingly by the end of this year.

There is plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest Apple and Energous have partnered on wireless charging. Energous has claimed it is working with "one of the top five consumer electronics companies," it has relationships with Apple manufacturers TSMC and Foxconn, and both Apple and Energous are members of ANSI.

Energous certification documents dating back to 2014 were also uncovered with an "Apple compliance testing" listing, and Apple supplier Dialog Semiconductor recently made a $10 million investment in Energous. Dialog makes power management chips and is said to get as much as three quarters of its business from Apple.

The deal Energous made reportedly gives its mystery partner first dibs on shipping its truly wireless charging technology "inside of phones, laptops, tablets, and certain wearables and accessories," and given the multiple rumors from credible sources, it appears one of those products could be the next iPhone.

Given that Apple has removed the headphone jack on iPhone 7 models, leaving the Lightning connector with the double duty of charging and connecting wired headphones, the move towards wireless charging would be appropriate.

Related Roundup: iPhone 8 (2017)
Tags: wireless charging, Energous

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Wireless Charging Company Energous Partners With Apple Supplier Dialog

Apple supplier Dialog Semiconductor recently made a $10 million investment in Energous, a company that's developing long-range wireless charging techniques and has been rumored to be working with Apple in the past, reports Fast Company.

According to Energous CEO Steve Rizzone, going forward, all Energous technology will be sold under the Dialog brand. Dialog makes power management chips and is said to get as much as three quarters of its business from Apple.


Energous has developed WattUp, an emerging wireless charging technology that uses radio frequencies to charge devices from up to 15 feet away. There's been no concrete proof that Energous has partnered with Apple in any way, but in 2015, Energous inked a deal with an unnamed consumer electronics company, and speculation has suggested it could be Apple.

The deal between Energous and known Apple supplier Dialog doesn't add any further evidence towards rumors of a partnership between Apple and Energous, but as Fast Company points out, Dialog's resources would make such a partnership more viable. Through Dialog, Energous now has access to Apple, knowledge of how Apple's supply chain works, and an inside edge on how to establish a deal with the Cupertino company.
But if Energous were trying to get into a position to supply technology to Apple, it couldn't have made a better move than tucking itself under Dialog's wing. [...]

On its own, Energous is probably too small to be an Apple supplier. Apple suppliers have to be large enough to reliably supply parts at Apple's huge scale. Dialog obviously already has that capacity. With the Energous technology basically being folded into the Dialog structure, all of a sudden Energous has it too.
Rumors suggest Apple is planning to integrate some kind of long-range wireless charging technology into the iPhone 8, set to be released in 2017. Long-range wireless charging is superior to many existing wireless charging methods because it does not require devices to be close to a charging source or mat, but there are also challenges to overcome.

With long-range charging, there's a loss of power transfer efficiency that occurs as the distance between the transmitter and the receiver is increased. That means devices charge more slowly when they're further away, and Apple is said to be aiming to overcome that limitation.

Apple has been hiring engineers with expertise in wireless charging, testing wireless charging modules, and has been seeking a supplier for wireless charging chips, all hints that point towards the imminent implementation of wireless charging. Still, it remains unknown how wireless charging will be implemented and whether Apple will partner up with a company like Energous to implement the feature.

Energous' CEO says the company's technology should be ready to start shipping out in real world products starting in the second quarter of 2017, but he did not comment on whether the partnership with Dialog was made in an attempt to secure some kind of deal with Apple.


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