A start-up led by two recent college graduates intends to free us from the ubiquitous tangle of wires that charge our many devices by replacing them with wireless electricity.
The company—uBeam —has attracted some high profile investors, and despite having missed a self-imposed product deadline, founder Meredith Perry's Twitter feed hinted recently that a product will launch soon.
The founders—Perry and Nora Dweck—started the company in 2011, inspired after forgetting a laptop charger at the wrong time. Their goal is a product that enables charging the electric batteries of various devices through the air: "WiFi for power."
If they succeed, they'll enter a rapidly growing sector. Big players in smartphones and tablets, including Samsung and Apple, have been debuting rudimentary wireless chargers for a couple of years; they're "wireless" in that the device itself doesn't need a wire, it just sits on a pad that's plugged into the wall.
Though not as truly wireless as uBeam is aiming to be, the market for this sort of rechargeable device was nearly half a billion dollars in 2011, according to Markets and Markets research. It's expected to reach $7.1 billion in 2017.
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The "u" in the name stands for "ultrasound," the means by which they aim to pull off the charging. There's a main charger, which they suggested at the only demonstration thus far (at the 2011 D9 conference in Palos Verdes, Calif.) could be ceiling mounted.
An adapter receives the signal, and triggers something called piezoelectric material to generate a charge (in science-speak, that's a type of material that generates a voltage when squeezed or bent). The various devices would plug into the adapter.
"It's a different method for generating the initial voltage" said Dr. Bernhard Bach, Department of Physics, University of Nevada.