Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Wireless charging with (ultra)sound

Wireless charging is a useful technology – fewer wires, less clutter, fewer international adapters, etc. But typical charging protocols mean leaving your phone on top of a charging plate to charge. Wouldn’t it be better if you could charge it anywhere in the room – even while you’re using it?

Photo by Nick Bilton, The New York Times
That’s what uBeam is working on. They've prototyped a technology that allows a receiver attached to your phone or tablet to convert ultrasound to electricity. That way, your phone can be charging whenever you're near a transmitter (within about 15 feet, currently.)

The ultrasound transmitters will be less than ¼” think and could be hung on walls or placed on tables. Typically, a smartphone or tablet would have a receiver either built-in or embedded in a case to receive the ultrasound.

Because it’s a continuous charging system, household devices like tablets, thermostat and other home automation devices might be able to use smaller, lighter batteries - or do without them altogether. The technology could be scaled up for use in larger rooms as well. uBeam is hoping to sell the technology to consumers along with restaurants, coffee shops and hotels.

The system could also be used for transmitting data over a secure ultrasound channel – also useful for home automation systems.

They've done a Series A round of financing after $1.7 million seed funding. It looks like they’re headed for Series B funding of $50 million and a live product by 2017. 

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