“Do you want us to charge your phone?” George Holmes asks. Normally, that would be an odd question. But Holmes is the vice president of sales and marketing for Energous, a company that is developing technology called WattUp that will allow you to charge smartphones, tablets, and other small gadgets from across a room without wires. Energous hopes other companies will license this technology and build it into all kinds of products and places, so you can easily power your iPad while sitting on the couch browsing Instagram, or top off your phone while buying a coffee or playing Candy Crush in an airport.
Devices can be charged wirelessly if they are connected to an external receiver, or slotted into a special protective case. Holmes plugs my iPhone into a white device shaped like a smartphone atop a little stand. Another iPhone sits on the table, wearing a bulky Energous case. Across the table, a briefcase-sized wireless energy transmitter sits on another tripod and a plug dangling from it is plugged into the wall.
Holmes picks up an iPad running a WattUp app that shows the two devices that are enabled for charging—mine, and the other iPhone in the case. He taps the app to tell the transmitter to find the devices and start the power-up process. My phone, which is 53 percent full, buzzes to indicate it is charging. Recharging works more than 10 feet from where the power is emitted, and you can move the device around while it’s charging."