Apple supplier Dialog Semiconductor recently made a $10 million investment in Energous, a company that's developing long-range wireless charging techniques and has been rumored to be working with Apple in the past.
According to Energous CEO Steve Rizzone, going forward, all Energous technology will be sold under the Dialog brand. Dialog makes power management chips and is said to get as much as three quarters of its business from Apple.
Energous has developed WattUp, an emerging wireless charging technology that uses radio frequencies to charge devices from up to 15 feet away. There's been no concrete proof that Energous has partnered with Apple in any way, but in 2015, Energous inked a deal with an unnamed consumer electronics company, and speculation has suggested it could be Apple.
The deal between Energous and known Apple supplier Dialog doesn't add any further evidence towards rumors of a partnership between Apple and Energous, but as Fast Company points out, Dialog's resources would make such a partnership more viable. Through Dialog, Energous now has access to Apple, knowledge of how Apple's supply chain works, and an inside edge on how to establish a deal with the Cupertino company.
But if Energous were trying to get into a position to supply technology to Apple, it couldn't have made a better move than tucking itself under Dialog's wing.
On its own, Energous is probably too small to be an Apple supplier. Apple suppliers have to be large enough to reliably supply parts at Apple's huge scale. Dialog obviously already has that capacity. With the Energous technology basically being folded into the Dialog structure, all of a sudden Energous has it too.
Rumors suggest Apple is planning to integrate some kind of long-range wireless charging technology into the iPhone8, set to be released in 2017. Long-range wireless charging is superior to many existing wireless charging methods because it does not require devices to be close to a charging source or mat, but there are also challenges to overcome.
With long-range charging, there's a loss of power transfer efficiency that occurs as the distance between the transmitter and the receiver is increased. That means devices charge more slowly when they're further away, and Apple is said to be aiming to overcome that limitation.
Apple has been hiring engineers with expertise in wirless charging, testing wireless charging modules, and has been seeking a supplier for wireless charging chips, all hints that point towards the imminent implementation of wireless charging. Still, it remains unknown how wireless charging will be implemented and whether Apple will partner up with a company like Energous to implement the feature.
Energous' CEO says the company's technology should be ready to start shipping out in real world products starting in the second quarter of 2017, but he did not comment on whether the partnership with Dialog was made in an attempt to secure some kind of deal with Apple.