Energous charges up for more wireless licensing deals

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Energous Corp (WATT.O), a developer of wireless technology for charging fitness wristbands and smartphones, is in talks to license its products to at least six potential customers, its chief executive said.

The company, whose transmitter can charge multiple devices without contact, plans to launch its ‘Mini WattUp’ transmitter later this year or early next year, hoping to grab a share of a market expected to grow seven-fold in five years.

Mini WattUp works only in close proximity to a receiver, making it suited to wearable devices such as Apple Inc’s (AAPL.O) Apple Watch, the Samsung Gear S2 and wristbands made by Fitbit Inc (FIT.N), which consume less power than smartphones.

The company has signed two licensing agreements: the first in February 2015 with an unnamed consumer electronics company and the second this week with Pegatron Corp (4938.TW), a Taiwanese electronics company.

San Jose, California-based Energous’s shares rose 18 percent to a year-high on Tuesday after the company announced the Pegatron deal. The stock has risen 26 percent this year to trade at $10 on Friday.

With the development of its first product nearing completion, Energous aims to sign up more partners “at the rate of one per month,” Chief Executive Stephen Rizzone told Reuters.

Energous, which went public in March 2014, plans to make money by licensing its technology to consumer electronics companies, chipmakers, original design manufacturers (ODMs) and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).

These companies would integrate the chargers into their products and pay a fee to Energous for every device sold.

“We have more interest from major consumer electronic companies, ODM, OEM and silicon companies than we can support,” Rizzone said.

Rizzone said Energous had reduced the cost of its transmitter and receiver to a point where it is viable for a manufacturer to include it in a product that sells for as little as $100.

About 144 million wireless charging receiver units were shipped worldwide in 2015, a number that is set to exceed 1 billion by 2020, according to market research firm IHS Inc.

Smartphone chargers dominate the market, in particular those using Qi wireless technology developed by the Wireless Power Consortium, a group of companies including Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (005930.KS).

Energous is working on more powerful versions of WattUp. Scheduled for launch in the latter part of 2017, these transmitters will be able to charge at a range of 3-15 feet (0.9-4.6 meters) and should be able to charge smartphones.

(Reporting by Kshitiz Goliya in Bengaluru; Editing by Don Sebastian)