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November 04, 2014

Wheelings & Dealings: uBeam Snags $10M for Sound-based Wireless Charging

Imagine: true wireless device charging—with no need to find an outlet to plug your phone in. That’s the vision behind uBeam, which just received $10 million in Series A funding.

uBeam is a wireless charging platform that uses ultrasound to send electricity to devices through the air. That means that portable devices can be charged at a distance, eliminating the need for any physical connection—essentially, the phone will charge as a user is walking around the house.

The charging device only needs a receiver attached to convert the sound waves back into electricity.

“It allows for a Wi-Fi-like experience of charging; with everything else you have to be in close range of a transmitter,” founder Meredith Perry told the New York Times.

Unlike Wi-Fi though, ultrasound waves can’t propagate through walls, so each room will require a transmitter for continuous charging. However, the uBeam charging stations measure no more than 5 millimeters in thickness, meaning that they could be built into decorative art or other consumer electronics.

There are also other ways that the breakthrough could change the shape of things to come—literally. “If wireless power is everywhere, then the size of your battery can shrink because it’s always charging,” Perry said. “You’ll never need a cord again, and you won’t need international charging adapters.”

uBeam has a prototype already, and expects products to hit store shelves within the next two years. There will be consumer-grade products for homes and offices, along with much larger versions that will target public spaces like stadiums, airports, hotels, conference halls and music venues.

The financing round was led by Upfront Ventures, and brings the total capital raised by the company to about $12 million. Upfront managing partner Mark Suster will join the uBeam board.

The company’s other investors include some big names, like Founders Fund, Andreessen Horowitz, CrunchFund, Ludlow Ventures, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, Zappos co-founder Tony Hsieh, Troy Carter, Shawn Fanning and Mark Cuban. 

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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