This is the woman that may kill the power cord. Meredith Perry is the founder of uBeam, a technology that uses ultrasound to transmit power over the air to charge electronic devices without wires. Perry was just the “average” astrobiology major at the University of Pennsylvania, until she became frustrated with the her laptop’s bulky power cord and the annoying process of connecting to a power source to charge it.
“The dream is to replace all electrical outlets with uBeam transmitters,” said Perry in a USA Today interview. “You’ll wake up and just go through your day with your device and it will be charging in your house, in your car, at your bus stop, at your gym, in your hotel. We want to be absolutely everywhere. And wires won’t be anywhere.”
Perry first presented a uBeam prototype at her school’s invention competition and she won. After winning, tech columnist Walt Mossberg challenged her to provide a working demo to present at the D9 tech conference in 2011.
Her successful demo raised $750,000 in seed money from Mark Cuban, Marissa Mayer, and Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund. Since then, uBeam’s wireless charging product has raised $23 million, hired 20 employees, and are now stationed in LA.
“It’s a zillion-dollar idea,” said Mark Cuban.
The uBeam technology holds several advantages. It is safe and relies on the ultrasonic waves used for scanning babies in the womb. And it’s relatively cheap, only costing around $50. The product is also quite slim and really easy to attach to your phone.
What’s really interesting about the uBeam innovation is that consumers connected would be able to charge their devices within a 15 foot radius, even while they are moving. In other words a person can carry their device around a room outfitted with uBeam’s transmitters and see their battery percentage grow.
According to uBeam, the wireless charging should be similar to the charging speed of plugging your device into a wall.
Major smartphone manufacturers like Apple and Samsung are looking for a way to solve their battery charging problems and uBeam could be the answer. Perry and her company already hold several wireless charging patents, which could be of high value within the next couple of years. The company was also said to be in talks with Virgin Airlines, Starwood Hotels, and other huge fast food chains, according to a TechCrunch article.
Despite some criticism from people who said her idea was dangerous and impossible, Perry is continuing with her vision of a wireless community.
“This will be the mother of all markets when it comes together,” said Marc Andereesen.
Perry comes from a family of scientists – her father is a plastic surgeon who developed a line of cosmetics and her mother is a child psychologist. She’s been practicing the family tradition from youth, developing a pair of reading glasses with light bulbs on them in the third grade.
One of Perry’s first jobs was being a student ambassador for NASA. She engaged and inspired students to take an interest in STEM research, aerospace education, and space exploration. She had a goal of accelerating the growth and development of NASA.
Since then, Perry has been included in Fortune’s “40 Under 40” Mobilizers, Forbes’ “30 Under 30” and Vanity Fair’s “The New Establishment.” She has also been recognized as one of Fast Company’s “Most Creative People” and is the recipient of Elle Magazine’s Genius Award.
There is much to be expected from Perry and uBeam in the next couple of years. The product is looking to be released in late 2016.
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