Meredith Perry

Founder, uBeam

Meredith Perry
[Photo by Daniel Stier]

Meredith Perry

For inventing a new way to unplug.

What if you never had to plug in your cell phone or laptop again? That’s the promise of uBeam, which charges electronics using sound waves rather than wall sockets. Though Meredith Perry isn’t saying when it might be available or how much it would cost, she has raised $1.7 million from the likes of Marissa Mayer, Founders Fund, and Andreessen Horowitz to develop the product.

Fast Company: When did you decide to work on this?

Perry: I was standing in my room at the University of Pennsylvania, holding my laptop charger, and it occurred to me that, Hang on, why am I using this cord to charge my wireless laptop? It was 2011, and I didn’t understand how we could be using something so archaic.

How did you hit on the idea to use ultrasound?

I started looking into types of technology that harnessed ambient energy, and I stumbled across piezoelectric [material], and I thought, If this can harness vibration, how do I induce ­vibration over the air? Then I realized that sound is vibration over the air. It was a natural “aha.”

How did experts react to your idea?

They gave me excuses about why it would be impossible. That was frustrating, but it taught me to be skeptical of everything, and that allows you to push forward with ideas that others might deem impossible.


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