We first came across uBeam's unusual wireless charging technology three years ago, at the All Things D Science Fair, where the fledgling company was only just introducing its creation to the public. Today, the company's finally ready for a big move forward -- uBeam co-founder Meredith Perry just announced that the team has created a fully functional prototype, one that will be used as a model for upcoming consumer versions. So, what makes uBeam so "unusual" anyway? Unlike other wireless charging standards that require you to place gadgets in contact with mats, uBeam's ultrasound-based technology allow you to move freely while charging. We're not talking about being able to charge phones merely two feet away from the mat: if the technology works as intended, you can actually move around the room while your device's battery gauge fills up.
Here's how it works: a thin charging station takes electricity and converts it into sounds, which are then transmitted over ultrasound. A receiver stuck to a phone or any other device then catches those sound waves and converts them back into energy. It does have limitations, though, such as not being able to pass through walls like WiFi, so you'll have to buy several transmitters if you want to be able to charge wirelessly in every room. Despite that, Perry has huge faith in her brainchild and believes that it has the potential to become as ubiquitous as WiFi. She even believes that it could influence the way manufacturers design their devices, leading to smaller batteries, since phones with uBeam receivers will constantly be charging anyway.
The company founder didn't say when the first consumer devices will come out, but she promised to sell directly to consumers and to businesses when the time comes.