Cesar Johnston brings to the CEO role over 25 years of experience in the RF wireless connectivity and RF wireless charging business. He held senior engineering roles at Marvell and Broadcom before joining Energous in 2014, where he has been responsible for the company's management, technical direction, and pioneering research and development to produce Energous’ state-of-the-art RF-based wireless power transfer technologies. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering and a certificate of business excellence (COBE) from the University of California, Berkeley.
Q. Can you give us a brief history of Energous Corporation? When was the company started and what was the objective?
Cesar Johnston: Energous was founded 10 years ago, in 2012, as a fabless semiconductor company. Since day one, we have been focused on the advancement of wireless charging technology through our award-winning WattUp technology, which is the only solution that supports both near-field and at-a-distance charging.
Our goal is to use our unique capabilities to deliver power at a distance allowing customers to deploy IoT systems without power cables and wires, alleviating the need and significant cost for cumbersome battery replacement, and supporting a new generation of battery-free IoT devices. Our WattUp charging technology will power a new generation of IoT receive devices giving them placement flexibility while also delivering higher levels of sustained power to support, for instance, advanced Artificial Intelligence processing capabilities.
Energous is not only developing the technology that can deliver on the promise of wireless charging over the air, but the company is also leading the worldwide regulatory effort for wireless power transfer (WPT).
Q. Can you tell us about Energous' product portfolio?
Cesar Johnston: Energous WattUp technology uses radio frequency (RF) to wirelessly power devices and internet of things (IoT) networks across a wide range of industries, including retail, industrial, and healthcare. Our WattUp product portfolio includes chips and modules, hardware devices including our WattUp PowerBridge and WattUp PowerHub transmitter technology, control software that enables the management of WattUp-enabled devices, and developer kits designed specifically for companies looking to incorporate over-the-air wireless charging into their intended product applications.
Q. What is WattUp wireless charging technology? How it is different from other wireless charging technologies/solutions available in the market?
Cesar Johnston: WattUp is an RF-based over-the-air wireless charging technology with regulatory approvals in over 100 countries. WattUp wireless charging technology is based on multiple semiconductors and specialized antenna technologies and is flexible to support a large variety of applications including industrial IoT, retail, and healthcare.
There exist two primary methods for wireless charging: Radio-frequency (RF) and inductive coil-based or Qi, which is the technology you find in many of today’s smartphones. RF power -- which our technology is based upon and supported by the AirFuel Alliance – differs substantially from Qi in that RF-charging supports over-the-air charging of devices. This makes RF-based charging ideal for large-scale IoT network deployments across wide distances, such as those in grocery stores where thousands of electronic shelf labels (ESLs) and RF tags across a large store require recharging at various intervals, as well as additional IoT-connected devices such as sensors, trackers and more.
Q. Can you tell us more about WattUp Wireless charging control software? How does it help in building a robust and efficient wireless charging ecosystem?
Cesar Johnston: WattUp wireless charging control software enables the setting up of management of WattUp-enabled devices, identifying whether the devices need a charge based on battery levels, setting minimum and maximum power levels, among many other functions.
Q. Can you tell us about your Power-at-a-Distance Solution? What are some challenges when wirelessly charging devices at a distance?
Cesar Johnston: Our WattUp PowerBridge and PowerHub transmitters feature RF-power transmit levels of 1W, 5.5 W, and 10 W currently and support the higher power needs of connected AI and other advanced IoT devices. These transmitters enable maximum coverage where multiple transmitters are linked together across communications infrastructures to cover larger spaces.
WattUp PowerBridge and PowerHub transmitters solve wireless power challenges for the growing IoT ecosystem, where IDC forecasts up to 39.3 billion IoT devices by 2025. Powering this growing ecosystem presents a challenge for the deployment of IoT devices, which increasingly require more power due to edge and other processing demands. Additionally, the often-remote location of these devices makes traditional power sources such as direct-wired connections or batteries that need constant replacement either impossible or impractical. Our WattUp PowerBridge transmitters enable wireless power networks that transmit reliable and consistent levels of power across the distances their modern deployments need.
Q. What frequency does your wireless charging solution operate at? What power levels can they achieve? Is there an upper limit of power that is safe to transmit wirelessly?
Cesar Johnston: WattUp operates at 915 MHz. We have WattUp PowerBridge and PowerHub transmitters with transmit power levels of 1 W, 5.5 W, and 10 W, with full regulatory approvals for safety and compliance.
Q. What applications and industries are currently using your charging solutions?
Cesar Johnston: WattUp is ideal for a wide range of applications and industries, including but not limited to industrial IoT, retail, healthcare, and more.
Q. Can you tell us about some interesting products in which WattUp technology has been used? How has this technology made those products possible or improved the performance of those products?
Cesar Johnston: Some of the interesting products are:
- Bluetooth IoT tags: Energous last Fall partnered with Wiliot, a Sensing as a Service company, to wirelessly power its low-cost, active Pixel tags that can be attached to nearly anything, with sensors that monitor light, humidity, proximity, and temperature. The WattUp PowerBridge is included inside the Wiliot Starter Kit, available directly from Wiliot.
- Edge artificial intelligence processors: At CES earlier this year, Energous announced a collaboration with Syntiant to develop and implement Energous’ WattUp wireless power network technology with Syntiant’s Neural Decision Processors (NDPs) for edge artificial intelligence (AI) deployments across a wide range of consumer and industrial use cases.
Q. Have your products been certified for use in All Major Countries? Are there any countries where these products cannot be used?
Cesar Johnston: WattUp PowerBridge and PowerHub transmitters are approved in the U.S., Canada, India, and Europe, a massive reach for our growing global ecosystem of wireless power transfer technology ideal for IoT deployments in markets such as retail, industrial and medical. Our goal is regulatory approval across the globe.
Q. What technological advancements are expected in Wireless Charging Technology in the next few years?
Cesar Johnston: As the number of IoT devices continues to expand, more wireless power networks will be deployed in the coming years in retail, industrial IoT, healthcare, and more. This demand for large-scale IoT deployments will bring with it the development of new transmitters and receivers for new market applications, will push TX power and distance for higher power delivery, and will lead to a new generation of semiconductor devices.
Click here to learn more about Wattup technology.
Johnston brings to the CEO role over 25 years of experience in the RF wireless connectivity and RF wireless charging business. He held senior engineering roles at Marvell and Broadcom before joining Energous in 2014, where he has been responsible for the company's management, technical direction, and pioneering research and development to produce Energous’ state-of-the-art RF-based wireless power transfer technologies. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering and a certificate of business excellence (COBE) from the University of California, Berkeley.