Innovation can come from the most mundane places. Case in point, Santa Monica-based uBeam; the idea for a truly wireless charger came when founder and CEO Meredith Perry forgot to bring her laptop’s power cord to class while still in college.
Yesterday the three-year-old company announced it raised $10 million in Series A funding, led by Upfront Ventures. According to Mark Suster, a partner at Upfront Ventures, it's the biggest A-round check he’s ever written. Other big names participating in the round includes Andreessen Horowitz, Mark Cuban and Ludlow Ventures. In previous interviews, the dynamic 25-year-old CEO describes her idea being dismissed by so-called experts and being told it couldn’t work. Still, Perry forged on and is finding success in both financing and within her engineering team.
The newest round of funding will help the company grow that critical engineering team and accelerate product development.
Ditch the Cord
The technology would make it possible to charge an electronic device – your laptop or phone – while moving throughout a room. It’s easy to imagine coffee chains rushing to offer free wireless charging on top of their free wifi networks. Just imagine running low on juice while away from home, but not having to worry about whether you can find someone with the charging device you need or never having to plug in a device again.
“We will start with mobile phones, but the potential is limitless – everything from hearing aids to wearables, laptops or flat screen TVs. uBeam literally has the power to untether the physical devices that have become indispensable to our daily lives,” Perry said in a statement.
There are larger, industrial scale uses as well.
The technology takes advantage of ultrasound, something that moves naturally through the air. Perry’s idea was to converts electricity into sound, send that through the air to a device, which then receives the sound and converts it into electricity. Want to get more technical? The process is called ultrasonic transduction. uBeam has filed for patents and says the technology is safe.
Earlier reports indicate the product will be a thin transmitter that could be placed on walls. This could disrupt the battery industry, allowing tech manufactures to make smaller, thinner batteries instead of competing to make longer-lasting ones.
Earlier this year, the company announced it had developed its first working prototype. But don’t throw out your charger quite yet, uBeam expects to deliver the product to customers in the next two years.
Perry was featured as one of Fast Company’s Most Creative People this year. She started the company while still a student at the University of Pennsylvania.