We’ve heard Meredith Perry, a 22-year-old UPenn graduate, is raising a just under $1 million round for her startup UBeam.UBeam is a device that uses ultrasonic waves to charge multiple devices, from phones to computers, wirelessly.
Founders Fund is said to be leading the round with participation from CrunchFund. Perry may be moving her startup to the west coast, if you read between the lines on some of her tweets.
Perry first met Michael Arrington at TechCrunch Disrupt New York, where she demoed her product for him.
He was so excited by what she presented that he couldn’t help from writing a blog post titled, Serendipity. While he doesn’t name her by name, it’s pretty clear he’s talking about Perry. “She performed the closest thing to magic I’ve seen in a long time,” Arrington wrote.
Ubeam is a transmitter that uses ultrasonic waves to wirelessly charge nearby mobile devices. Perry says the waves aren’t harmful to humans. They’re using a pitch that can’t be heard by humans, and it doesn’t use radiation to transmit the charge.
“What happens is, the ultrasound, which vibrates the air, vibrates what’s called a piezoelectric transducer,” she said last year while presenting UBeam at the D-9 conference. “And what happens is the ultrasound will vibrate the piezocrystals, and the crystals will move back and forth, and that will generate an electrical current.”
Perry doesn’t have an electrical engineering background; she studied astrobiology in school. She self-taught herself to build UBeam’s working prototype via Google and Wikipedia. Perry thought of the idea for UBeam in class, when her laptop died and she didn’t have a way to charge it.
Photo: D-9 via AllThingsD
“Even though I previously knew nothing about wireless power, Google is such a powerful tool that it only took a couple of days to throw together to the high-level idea,” she tells DailyBrink. “10,000 hours, 9 trips across the country, a billion maths equations, and a million iterations later: I’ve developed a design that will actually work.”
We first met Perry last December in New York; we were floored by her concept. But Perry hasn’t had the easiest time getting UBeam off the ground.Already she’s had to battle a slew of legal threats, from cofounders and other companies alike.
Then, as she explained it to us, Perry was in the middle of a “Zuckerberg-Eduardo Saverin” like scandal. Her fellow classmate and cofounder, Nora Dweck, filed a lawsuit against her. We’ve heard the lawsuit is behind them; Dweck still lists herself as a UBeam cofounder on LinkedIn.
Perry has also been approached by large corporations who have tried to intimidate her into licensing UBeam’s technology to them, for which Perry has filed a few patents. It’s not easy fighting big companies that have a lot of cash when you’re a young, self-funded founder.
Perry told DailyBrink that she wants to roll out a consumer product by 2013. Her current product is designed to charge an iPhone 4 in 3.3 hours. Ideally, it will be a product that can be placed on the floor or ceiling of a room and charge every device, laptop and iPad alike, at once.
It’s still very much in the beginning phases, but UBeam could be a very disruptive idea.
We’ve reached out to Perry multiple times for comment.