uBeam wireless power startup shows prototype at D9 (video hands-on)

As seems to be the case each year, one or two stars show up to demonstrate new technology here at the All Things D 'Science Fair,' and it just so happens that a pair from the University of Pennsylvania are soaking up the limelight this go 'round. uBeam's the company, and based on what we saw at D9, we're guessing that you'll be hearing an awful lot more from the duo in the coming months. The company's mission is to provide wireless power -- hardly a new concept, but it's all sorts of refreshing to see what's often thought of as a pipe dream get an injection of reality. The outfit is literally comprised of two people for the moment, with the prototype shown here concocted just a few weeks ago.

The goal? To get uBeam transmitters installed in as many locales as possible, and then to hit critical mass from a device standpoint. Imagine walking into a restaurant with uBeam transmitters in the ceiling, and watching your handset magically recharge as you await your appetizer. Granted, the outfit's a long way from that -- its first product will be a small charging puck that'll connect to a bevy of USB devices. That'll pair with an enterprise or consumer-level transmitter, a device that will ideally be situated in a ceiling. For now, things are strictly line-of-sight, but the shipping system will be able to detect a uBeam puck in the room and charge it if it's anywhere within a 20 to 30 foot radius. We're told that the consumer version will be suitable for piping power to just a handful of devices, whereas the enterprise build will be able to juice up an undisclosed amount more. Care to learn more? Head on past the break.

The company's hoping to provide around eight volts to each device -- that's enough to charge your average smartphone, but certainly not enough for laptops, tablets, etc. 'Course, you've got to start somewhere, and it's pretty obvious where future revisions would end up. We were also told that the dream of integration is a very real one, but as with Qi and any other contact-based charging solution, third-party add-ons are always present in round one. So, when's this coming to your abode? Sooner than you may expect. While it's yet to nail down a hardware partner, the firm's confident that the initial system will be on store shelves by the fall, with the consumer transmitter costing between $200 and $300, and the puck itself retailing for around $30.

Pricey? Certainly, but it's touching on what many consider to be the holy grail of technology: wirelessly-delivered energy. If it can figure out how to expand the range, get this integrated into devices (think NFC modules) and get the price point down, you may be asking your future hotel if they have uBeam right along with gratis WiFi. We'll obviously be digging for more details as the show progresses, but for now, feel free to have a look at a (very preliminary) video demo below.