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Wireless Revolution

uBeam by Meredith Perry

Our world is changing rapidly, with new futuristic innovations bombarding almost daily as we move on further into the tech-dominated era. The one things that seem to keep constraining the evolution of technology and has become a burden even for the most iterate technological innovations is the common dependence on charging.

To maintain our working gizmos and gadgets we have to rely on charging. We are shackled continuously by wiring, and so far, despite early attempts at wireless charging solutions, nothing has indeed become the ultimate functioning solution. However, while early examples of wireless charging have required just as much fuss as the wired way, the future of this technology could result in a world without wires.

The most current solution to wireless charging has been mats & plates. By just placing your device on one of these mats, without having to plug anything in your smartphone will begin charging immediately. The mat/plate however still has to be plugged in. The problem is, lining it up accurately to charge again doesn’t save you from the hassle of just plugging it in. Now imagine wireless charging that works via sound waves. One woman set out on a task revolutionise charging by founding a company that is developing an over the air charging system.

Meredith Perry founded uBeam in 2011 while she attended The University of Pennsylvania. For the school’s invention competition, Perry designed uBeam which won her first place, following which she demonstrated the first prototype of the technology at The Wall Street Journal’s All Things Digital Conference, D9 in May 2011. So what is the actual technology behind it? uBeam is designed to work designed to work via ultrasound. uBeam wants to transmit a pure ultrasound using a single frequency between 45 kHz – 75 kHz, with a sound intensity of 145 dB to 155 dB SPL, and that it would use a phased array technique to direct the beam. It can charge your phone even while you’re moving, in any environment.

uBeam has already collected $26 million in investment from venture capitalists and investors. Axios reported that uBeam have privately demonstrated a working prototype of the technology at the Upfront Summit on February 2, 2017[. They have also publicly demonstrated wirelessly charging several iPhone 7s, Samsung Galaxy S7’s, and LEDs simultaneously to USA Today.

But is uBeam safe? Research indicates that ultrasonic noise has little effect on general health unless there is direct body contact with a radiating ultrasonic source. The frequencies uBeam states they intend to use are similar to that of rear Parking sensors found in most modern vehicles.

The ultimate aim of uBeam is to bring us the power of sound, but development is slow and the progress made compared to the amount invested is worrying. Now whether it will be fully functional and when it will launch, remains unanswered. It looks like we will have to live with tangly wires, a little much longer than we thought.

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