Samsung, the world’s largest smart phone manufacturer, has invested $4 million into PowerbyProxi, a company that lets you power up your mobile device simply by placing it on a power pad.
Powering devices wirelessly has long been the stuff of science fiction. But really, what if power really can get rid of cables in the same way that Wi-Fi disposes of networking wires? The wireless power movement is very early, but already there are several competitors pushing alternative technologies and standards to realize that dream. Aside from PowerbyProxi, they include Fulton Innovations, WiTricity and Qualcomm.
As VentureBeat reported earlier this year, New Zealand’s PowerbyProxi has developed cool chargers that you can use to charge a smartphone or other devices simply by placing then in a power box or on top of a power pad. The device charges regardless of the position you place it in. Such devices have a short range, but they’re often more convenient than today’s methods.
Including Samsung’s latest investment, the company has raised close to $20 million. The backing of Samsung is likely to give the company even more momentum.
Samsung’s investment came from the Samsung Ventures Investment Corporation (SVIC), and is part of the PowerbyProxi’s third round of funding, which also included $5 million from Germany’s TE Connectivity.
This investment marks Samsung’s first in the wireless power industry. However, Greg Cross, CEO and chairman of PowerbyProxi said in an interview with VentureBeat that Samsung’s investment would do nothing to interfere with PowerbyProxi’s independence or product development roadmap.
“We want to support as many consumer electronics and industrial components as we possibly can,” he said. He said the openness aligns well with Samsung’s own interests, because Samsung itself is a supplier of components to many other players in the industry, even to fierce competitors such as Apple.
“We believe that wireless power transfer is going to significantly change the way consumers use and interact with their devices at home and on the go,” said Michael Pachos, senior investment manager, Samsung Ventures America in a prepared statement. Pachos, of Samsung Ventures, will join PowerbyProxi’s board.
PowerbyProxi is a contributing member of the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC) Steering Committee. Tony Francesca, the company’s vice president of business development, has been appointed chairman of a WPC task force designed to define a wireless power resonant extension to the so-called Qi specification.
PowerbyProxi and Samsung announced a strategic partnership that licenses the power technology to Samsung, so that it can use it for its consumer electronic and home appliances. Samsung said its research identified PowerbyProxi as a leader in wireless power technology based on its “expertise, track record and comprehensive patent portfolio.”