This could fundamentally change the way you charge your phone.
Modern day wireless charging is slightly better than plugging in with a cable. Sure, you get to ditch the wire, but you still have to plug in the charging pad and then keep your phone on that while it juices up. A better version might be on the way: The FCC has just approved wireless charging tech that can work at a distance of feet, so you don’t even have to set your phone down.
The tech to charge your phone in midair with no wires has existed for a while now, even making an appearance at CES two years ago, though with some big caveats like the need for bulky charging case to make the magic happen. FCC approval, recently granted to startup Energous, marks an important milestone on the path toward getting this tech in a phone you actually use. The company’s “WattUp” system consists of a transmitter and receiver that the company says can charge multiple devices at a distance of up to 15 feet, and while there’s no consumer version yet, one is assuredly in the works.
The prospect of wireless charging that works like Wi-Fi is exciting, but still likely has a long way to go. While companies like Energous may be able to perfect their own systems, these are all but destined to require bulky phone cases to function as a receiver for the near future until phonemakers are enthused enough about the tech to build it into phones directly.
How long will that take? A while. The first pad-style wireless-charging Android phone launched in 2012, and it wasn’t until this year that the tech finally made it to iPhones, reaching a peak of ubiquity that might eventually make wireless charging pads as common as USB ports. This only happened after years of sub-par wireless charging performance and multiple standards wars—we can expect the same from wireless charging tech. But it is out there, and someday it might just be in a phone you own.