Wi-Fi-style charging takes one step closer to reality

7 Aug 2014

Imagine talking on your mobile phone and as you talk ultrasound waves are charging your device at the same time. Well, thanks to 22-year-old astrobiologist Meredith Perry, this is no longer science fiction.

Perry, the founder of US start-up uBeam, has recently raised US$750,000 in seed funding from Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer, the Founders Fund, Andreessen Horowitz and Crunchfund to make wireless charging of electronic devices a reality.

Perry, a former student of the University of Pennsylvania, became inspired to create the technology when she grew frustrated by constantly running out of power on her laptop.

According to The New York Times, Perry created a technology that can take electricity, convert it into sound and send that audio through the air to the device you want to charge and a receiver attached to the device will convert that sound back into electricity.

A prototype built by Perry to win her university’s innovation competition has already been turned into a fully functional prototype that is ready for mass production for consumers.

Perry said the device, a 5mm thick transmitter that can be attached to walls, allows for a Wi-Fi-like experience of charging wirelessly within a room by transmitting to laptops, tablets or smartphones attached to wireless receivers.

Until now, wireless charging devices provided by players such as Nokia require placing a smartphone on a surface and using inductive coil technology to charge the device.

However, thanks to Perry’s breakthrough, people will be able to move freely around a room and stay productive so long as they are within range of her transmitter.

Look, no wires!

Women Invent Tomorrow is Silicon Republic’s campaign to champion the role of women in science, technology, engineering and maths. It has been running since March 2013, and is kindly supported by Accenture Ireland, Intel, the Irish Research Council, ESB, Twitter, CoderDojo and Science Foundation Ireland.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years