uBeam, the hyped-up startup that wants to charge a room full of electronic devices wirelessly, has released some details about how its products actually work.
In a 3,000-word update on its website, founder Meredith Perry launched into an explanation of the science behind uBeam, how the product will work, and how safe it is.
uBeam’s ultimate goal is to help create a wireless world, Perry writes. By creating wireless charging centres, Perry says that “batteries will become smaller, devices will become lighter and thinner.”
The technology behind uBeam — which is not yet available to consumers — is something that’s unprecedented. It converts electricity to inaudible sound waves, which travel through the air. The sound waves get converted back to electricity, which then charges up your devices. In order to work, the uBeam system requires two parts: a charger (which can be attached to a wall) and a receiver (which gets put on each device you want to charge).
“We’ve developed a powerful and intelligent ultrasonic transmitter that beams high intensity ultrasound through the air,” Perry previously told Business Insider.
“The ultrasound in the air then hits a receiver, which can be in the shape of a case around an electronic device or can be embedded within a device. The receiver vibrates in response to the sound at a frequency too fast for people to feel, and then converts that vibration into electrical power.”
According to TechCrunch, uBeam will start by releasing a phone charging case, though it eventually wants to expand to power other devices. uBeam is working on a version for homes and a more industrial version so you could wirelessly charge your phone in an airport or at a conference. It could become as ubiquitous as Wi-Fi.
The technology has one caveat: it can’t beam sound waves through walls. So if you’re buying a uBeam system for your house and you want to charge in every room, you’d have to buy a transmitter for each room in which you want to wirelessly charge your phone.
In addition, Perry says, her startup’s technology is safe. “
The safety of ultrasound has been examined for over 30 years and various occupational medicine scientific studies have failed to identify dangers of either industrial or medical ultrasound,” she writes, citing a research paper on the safety of ultrasound.
uBeam’s system will also not affect pets or animals, she says. In addition, Perry says, uBeam is complicit with regulatory bodies like the FDA.
Perry came up with the idea for uBeam while she was still a student at the University of Pennsylvania. She showed up to class with a dead laptop and without a power cord, and was annoyed enough to think of a solution.
The startup’s investors include Andreessen Horowitz, Founders Fund, Upfront Ventures, Troy Carter’s AFSquare, CrunchFund, Marissa Mayer, and Mark Cuban.