An Inventor Wants One Less Wire to Worry About - NYTimes.com
Jonathon Youshaei stashed this in Entrepreneurship Articles
Why things are the way they are:
“I was just standing in my room,” she said, “wrapping up my laptop charger and trying to fit it into my bag and suddenly it occurred to me: Wow, this is so archaic. Why are we using these 20-foot wires to plug in our quote-unquote wireless devices?”
“See past old paradigms” is one of those cheesy riffs one might hear from an innovation expert working the business speakers’ circuit. Yet here it was, a question that inched just past what was simply accepted: Why, in a wireless age, do we still have electrical wires?
As Ms. Perry soon learned, there are very good reasons that we don’t beam electricity through the air. Though you can transmit the entire electromagnetic spectrum, from radio waves to gamma rays, there are problems. “I realized that anything on the right half of the spectrum was too dangerous to beam,” she said, “and anything on the left half of the spectrum that was closer to radio was either too inefficient or tightly regulated by the government.”
The AHA moment:
And here’s where the second eureka happened — enabling her to see how she might build a device to wirelessly charge a battery in a cellphone or a computer from across a room.
“How do I create vibration in the air without actually moving something?” The answer came instantly — it was almost like a stoner’s aha: “Sound is vibration in the air.”
Sound frequency “is basically how many cycles per second air is being pushed through a space,” Ms. Perry says. “We have little hairs in our ears that vibrate in response to sound. We interpret that change in air pressure as sound. But sound is something that exists outside of our head. Literally, it’s just air particles moving in an arranged fashion.” So was it possible to deploy sound waves that humans couldn’t hear or feel, in order to charge a phone?
Nothing in her training prepared her for this kind of research. She was an astrobiologist, after all. She was just 21 and had spent the previous two summers interning at NASA.
Amazing founder story.
Ah, you are talking about Redtooth.
Is that the complement to Bluetooth?
Meredith Perry attracted a Who's Who of investors to productize the technology:
After the Founders Fund signed on, more than a half-dozen venture capitalists also kicked in to create $1.4 million in start-up financing — including Mark Cuban, the Yahoo chief Marissa Mayer, the Andreessen Horowitz firm and even Troy Carter, Lady Gaga’s manager. At first, Ms. Perry thought of calling the company “Taking Charge,” but settled on “uBeam.” Based in Mountain View, Calif., it now has a half-dozen engineers working in labs on both coasts.
Seems to me that $1.4 million is not enough to get to whatever her next milestone is.
Then again, wireless charging is a holy grail. I hope she succeeds.