Many of us can’t possibly imagine life without our smartphones, but they aren’t without their problems. Although the phones are continuing to get more powerful, battery life isn’t keeping up. But what if you could charge them almost anywhere and it was as simple as connecting to Wi-Fi?
That’s exactly what wireless charging startup uBeam is aiming for. Last year we reported that uBeam had produced a fully functional prototype of its ultrasonic wireless charging platform. Now the company has refined its early prototypes into something more consumer-friendly, and venture capitalists are all over it.
After receiving $3.2 million in seed funding followed by a $10 million investment from Upfront Ventures last year, uBeam is looking at raising $50 million or more, according to TechCrunch. Part of this is related to developing the technology itself, but that isn’t all that uBeam has up its sleeve.
Instead of simply selling its wireless charging case and charging stations directly to consumers, uBeam is looking at partnering with retail locations, fast food chains, airlines, and others to provide wireless charging much in the same way that those locations currently offer Wi-Fi.
StarBucks is said to be especially close to signing a deal with uBeam, but Starwood hotels and Virgin are also mentioned. In addition to these retailers, uBeam is said to be talking with hardware manufacturers like Apple and Samsung. Whether this is about providing built-in wireless charging or simply partnering to sell wireless charging cases as accessories is unknown, but it’s hard not to get excited about the possibilities.
Unlike current wireless charging systems, which require the device being charged to remain stationary on a mat, uBeam’s ultrasonic transduction works at a range of around 15 feet, and there is no need for the devices to sit still. They can be operated even as they continue to charge.
There are still many problems to be solved before this technology becomes fit for daily use, but at least we are now at the beginning. And it might be the beginning of the end as well, at least as far as power cords are concerned.