CES charge-up: NZ's PowerbyProxi signs licensing deal with Texas Instruments

Auckland maker of wireless charging technology for smartphones, tablets, other gadgets takes another step toward profitability.

PowerbyProxi, the Auckland maker of wireless charging technology, has signed a technology licensing agreement with Texas Instruments (TI), the global semiconductor company that designs and manufactures analog integrated circuits and embedded processors. 

The deal is the third major development over the past 12 months for PowerbyProxi, which develops technology for both the industrial and consumer electronics markets. Its uses span cable-free, frictionless power for wind turbine components to charging a phone, tablet or other gadget (as long as it's got compatible electronics onboard) simply by plonking it on a charging mat, or dropping it into a charging tub.

It follows an April 2013 $US5 million investment by TE Connectivity, the giant US maker of industrial components. And a September 2013 $US4 million investment by Samsung for a 12.47% stake - implying a private equity value of $US32 million for PowerbyProxi (read more about its ownership, and IPO talk, here).

Texas Instruments is the third largest chip maker in the world, behind Intel and Samsung. It will incorporate PowerbyProxi technology into integrated circuits it supplies to gadget makers (TI's customers include almost every major consumer electronics company, including Apple -  though how many will buy its wireless charging components is still an open question).

TI will use  PowerbyProxi’s resonant and closely coupled wireless power expertise and patents to add new products to its range of wireless power and charging solutions, the company says.

"Resonant" is the key word here. "Resonant provides spatial freedom in the positioning of the transmitter and the receiver and also allows for multi device and multi type of device charging off the same transmitter ie a much improved user experience," PowerbyProxi executive chairman and CEO Greg Cross explains. 

“TI is recognised as the leading supplier of wired and wireless power solutions and respected across consumer electronics devices, industrial systems, and battery management,” says PowerbyProxi “It’s widely understood that the market has been waiting for resonant wireless power technologies for rapid growth and expansion,” r Cross says.

The CEO wouldn't put a value on the deal, but told NBR, "TI is one of the most important IC [integrated circuit] companies on the planet. Wireless power is an important market for them and they have been a leader in developing ICs for the Wireless Power Consortium standard. Delivering a resonant wireless power IC to OEM's [product manufactuers] based on our PowerbyProxi technology could well represent the next big step in the adoption and use of wireless power in consumer electronics devices."

The initial focus of the TI and PowerbyProxi relationship will be to deliver a resonant solution compatible with the Wireless Power Consortium’s (WPC) Qi standard.

“Consumers have a deep desire to charge portable electronics anywhere and anytime – and designers of end equipment want wireless power interoperability,” says Steve Lambouses, vice president and general manager of battery management at TI. “PowerbyProxi’s wireless power technologies can work across any standard being used and developed globally.  We believe this is an excellent opportunity to use their expertise and IP to provide new and exciting capabilities to the market.”

This year should also see Samsung release its first consumer products incorporating PowerbyProxi technology.

Mr Cross also tells NBR that 2014 should also be the year that PowerbyProxi (born out of Auckland University research in 2007) turns its first profit.

Right now, the company's focus is on the giant Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, starting today. PowerbyProxi is exhibiting at the trade fair, expected to be attended by around 150,000.

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