Aug 252011

Meredith Perry turned 22 this month. She just graduated from college and started a new company built around a technology she recently invented.

There’s plenty of bad economic news these days, but Perry and her company, called UBeam, are trying to defy it — she’s hiring and entertaining funding offers from investors.

Perry’s invention: a transmitter that can recharge wireless devices using ultrasonic waves. It’s like Wi-Fi, she says, except instead of a wireless Internet connection, her’s transmits power over the air.

“What happens is, the ultrasound, which vibrates the air, vibrates what’s called a piezoelectric transducer,” she says. “And what happens is the ultrasound will vibrate the piezocrystals, and the crystals will move back and forth, and that will generate an electrical current.”

Perry says the idea came to her when she went to class with a dead laptop and no power cord. She wondered: Why can’t I recharge without a cord?

“It’s 2011, and if we have quote-unquote wireless devices, they should actually be wireless,” she says.

It’s one of those ideas that seems too elegant and simple to be true. Perry is used to fielding skeptical questions. No, the waves don’t cause cancer. Yes, she has filed for patents. And yes, it has been tried before — but not using ultrasound.

A Different Kind Of Inventor

Perry’s story is unusual — she’s 22 years old and a woman starting a high-tech company. But she downplays her youth and gender.

Perry seems to have always gone through life on fast forward. She was just in Houston running a zero-gravity experiment for NASA, where she was a student ambassador. She flew in a plane that went up and then down at very high velocity.

“It’s called the ‘vomit comet‘ for a reason,” she says.

Things at UBeam also happened swiftly. This past April, she won an invention competition at the University of Pennsylvania.

Read more . . .

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