Samsung invests $4M in wireless charging firm

Samsung Electro-Mechanics Division also signs agreement with PowerbyProxi to jointly develop new charging devices

Samsung's venture funding arm announced that it's investing $4 million in PowerbyProxi, a New Zealand-based wireless charging company whose technology can send power to multiple devices at the same time.

At the same time, Samsung's Electro-Mechanics division announced a development partnership with PowerbyProxi to produce new charging devices.

The deal marks first partnership in wireless power for Samsung Electro-Mechanics.

PowerbyProxi is now focusing efforts on the retail market with miniaturized devices that fit inside a AA battery.

Fady Mikrisihi, CEO of PowerbyProxi, demonstrates his company's wireless charging technology that can recharge batteries without having to be in a fixed location. In the demo, you can see multiple devices, including a AA battery, recharging in a box.

The announcement signals Samsung Electro-Mechanics' commitment to wireless power and wireless charging as a key technology for the future of consumer electronics and home appliances, Samsung said in a statement.

"Our research identified PowerbyProxi as a leader in wireless power technology based on its expertise, track record and comprehensive patent portfolio," Hugh Kim, director of Wireless Charging Development for Samsung Electro-Mechanics, said. "We are excited to work together on innovative consumer products that will raise the bar for our industry."

PowerbyProxi is a member of the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC) Steering Committee, which is developing standards for wireless charging. Currently, a WPC task force is working to define a wireless power resonant extension to the Qi (pronounced "chee") specification. Qi is the most widely adopted wireless charging specification today.

PowerbyProxi's charging technology allows "loosely-coupled" wireless technology to send power to multiple at the same time, regardless of the position on an induction pad or in a charging box.

PowerbyProxi got its start four years ago selling large-scale systems for commercial industries such as construction, telecommunications, defense and agriculture. One product is a wireless control system for wind turbines.

"As we've started to work with market analysts over the last couple of years, there's an increasing recognition that the potential size of the industrial components market is at least as large as products in the consumer electronics market," Cross said.

PowerbyProxi's said it has developed technology that can wirelessly charge smartphones, toys and headphones -- all at the same time.

PowerbyProxi's charging pad uses "loosely coupled" magnetic induction charging technology that allows multiple devices to be charged at the same time.

Through the partnership, Samsung hopes to create a new functionality that electronic parts' manufacturers can offer to their customers.

The $4 million from Samsung Ventures Investment Corp. (SVIC), brings the total venture capital for PowerbyProxi to $9 million this year, including $5 million from TE Connectivity and Movac.

"Receiving this investment from the world's leading consumer electronics brand is a clear endorsement of our wireless power IP portfolio," said Greg Cross, CEO of PowerbyProxi. "Samsung's shareholding reinforces our leading position in wireless power transfer and will help us both serve our customers better."

PowerbyProxi's relationship with TE Connectivity is related to the development of wireless charging technology for industrial applications, such as windmills and other generators.

"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 at Samsung Ventures America. "Our investment in PowerbyProxi is consistent with our strategy to work closely with established market leaders."

Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian, or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed . His email address is lmearian@computerworld.com.

Read more about mobile/wireless in Computerworld's Mobile/Wireless Topic Center.

This story, "Samsung invests $4M in wireless charging firm" was originally published by Computerworld.

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