It’s a scene too many of us have witnessed, and personally experienced: Your tablet, smartphone or laptop computer battery is about to die. Frantically, you look around the airport terminal for a charging station. Half are in use; the other half are broken.
Never fear: You have a plug adapter. But, where is there a plug? Why are their no plugs at the Sky Harbor Airport baggage claim?! Why does this brand new food court at Miami International Airport have no outlets?!
New technology will soon allow you to charge your devices without the need for a connection. You can thank the FCC for giving the green light to an advance that could effectively boost consumption of your radio or TV stations via a hand-held device.
Introducing the WattUp — a wire-free, “power-at-a-distance” charging technology from Silicon Valley-based Energous Corp., which trades on Nasdaq as “WATT.”
The product’s formal introduction is only thanks to the Commission, which has just received FCC certification of the key to WattUp’s functionality: its first-generation mid-field transmitter. This sends focused, RF-based power to devices at a distance, and the certification is the first for wireless charging under Part 18 of the Commission’s rules.
Simply put, the WattUp and devices like it that arrive on the scene in the coming months and years could revolutionize wireless charging.
At the same time, radio and TV companies now have the opportunity for increased consumption of their stations via a handheld device.
The arrival of the WattUp Mid Field transmitter comes after what Energous calls “rigorous, multi-month testing” to verify it met consumer safety and regulatory requirements.
“The certification marks a significant milestone for the consumer electronics industry and paves the way for future wireless charging ubiquity for nearly any small electronic device, including smartphones, tablets, fitness trackers, smart watches, earbuds, wireless keyboards and mice, smart speakers and more,” the company notes.
Wall Street instantly reacted, sending WATT shares up by more than 81% in noon-hour trading, to $16.08. Volume was substantial at 12.7 million shares; average trading volume for Energous is 401,400.
At the closing bell, WATT shares finished ahead an incredible 168%, ending the day at $23.70 on whopping volume of 41.78 million shares.
The company will be showing off its WattUp technology at CES 2018, January 9-12 in Las Vegas.
HOW IT WORKS
Picture a WiFi router. Now, you have a very clear understanding of how WattUp works: it can deliver power via radio frequency (RF) energy to WattUp-enabled electronic devices at a distance of up to three feet.
Energous explains, “The WattUp ecosystem ensures interoperability between receivers and transmitters, regardless of the manufacturer, making the entire ecosystem flexible and accessible for consumers and manufacturing partners.”
Company President/CEO Stephen R. Rizzone adds, “Older wireless charging technologies have received limited adoption over the past 15 years, and are confined to contact-based charging only. The FCC certification of Energous’ power-at-a-distance wireless charging transmitter is a major market milestone. It opens up options, outside of just contact-based charging, to Wireless Charging 2.0: an ecosystem where devices can be charged both, via pad and at a distance.”
WattUp also opens up new possibilities for the NextRadio app, which allows users of Android-powered smartphones to listen to live and local FM radio stations via over-the-air broadcast and users of iOs-powered devices to easily stream local stations.
“This means that in any emergency, you’ll have the ability to receive a charge, and you can stay in touch for an unlimited amount of time,” says Jeff Smulyan, founder and Chairman/CEO of Emmis Communications, parent company of NextRadio developer TagStation. “Anytime you can make the smartphone more efficient, we can benefit from that.”
Energous believes its WattUp is on the cusp of further wireless powering breakthroughs.
“WattUp transmitter technology will continue to advance in both power, distance, efficiency and scale, with applications that could include integration into the bezel of computer monitors, soundbars, smart speakers, TVs, smart lighting, and other electronics in the home, office and beyond,” the company says.
Will consumers want this and use it? The answer as Mark Fowler sees it is “yes,” and sees such technology in the car — a bubbling battleground for media companies seeking top desirability among bother passengers and drivers.
Fowler, the FCC Chairman during the Reagan Administration who currently serves as Chief Marketing Officer of technology company LN2, also believes the arrival of WattUp is another catalyst for radio and TV broadcast companies to evaluate their plans and strategize how they will best attract the “dominant” media audience in the coming years — millennials.
Citing recent research conducted by Jacobs Media Strategies President Fred Jacobs, Fowler says broadcasters need to be thinking about now about how they should program to the millennial audience.
While he agrees with that advice from Jacobs, Fowler also believes that, in the next 30 years, what’s not going to be changing for radio is a paramount consideration for broadcast media owners.
“People want content that is compelling, riveting, and interesting,” Fowler says. “That’s not going to change.”
What will change is accessibility, and with less fear of battery drainage, the hand-held wireless device has just taken on a new level of importance for everyone in the media world.
Smulyan notes how his teenage child is constantly running down the battery on their smart device of choice. “I do most of my work in the field on my iPad,” he says.
Longer battery life allows for longer leisure-time use.
This could very well lead the broadcast media C-Suites to respond in unison to “WattUp?” with two simple words: we are.
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