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Creating wireless charging technology that actually works

By Jacob Claerhout

Energysquare is building a new wireless charging standard, with the aim of taking the power cables of our work devices out of the equation. We are very excited to announce our investment in the company.

A universal pain

We all know the pain: going to a meeting to then realize that your laptop’s battery will fail soon, because you did not plug it in earlier at your desk. You might have tried putting charging stations in your meeting rooms, just like we did at Partech, however this quickly turns into a real mess.

The ultimate solution would be to charge your laptop, both on your desk and in your meeting rooms, without the hassle of plugging in cables. This is where wireless charging comes into the picture.

When Giants can’t beat physics

Nikola Tesla demonstrated in the late 19th century already, that you can transmit electricity through the air by creating a magnetic field between two circuits, in this case a charging pad and your device. This physical phenomenon is called electromagnetic induction, and is used in wireless charging technology for phones, through the so-called Qi standard.

Inductive charging might sound like magic, but actually the user experience is far from enchanting. You will have to wait 2-3x times longer than you normally would to have your phone fully charged and if your phone is not perfectly positioned on the charging pad, your phone will die before your alarm wakes you up in the morning. On top of that, you are wasting a lot of energy that goes to heating up your phone. Positioning, speed and energy losses are all innate limitations of inductive charging, which cannot charge devices larger than smartphones.

Over the past 7 years, however, all major electronics companies, think among others Apple, Intel and Qualcomm, have invested billions in trying to solve these issues and make inductive charging work. They however have not succeeded to build a solution that is safe, energy-efficient and reliable, and relevant to devices beyond smartphones.

A radically different solution

Four years ago, Timothée Le Quesne (CEO) and Daniel Lollo (CTO), 2 brilliant French engineers, understood the limitations of inductive wireless charging and started working on a fundamentally different approach leveraging conduction. Here, you send a charge through a (set of) conductive materials to your device, much like a normal charging cable does. Why has no one thought about it before? Because it is very complex to safely and accurately send energy in the right amount at the right time to right place on the surface.

However, it is exactly here that the technology called Power by Contact® developed by Timothée and Daniel makes the difference. It is a set of advanced microelectronics and algorithms, allowing users to charge all their devices simultaneously on a single surface, at maximum speed, with no electromagnetic waves, no energy loss and most importantly no safety risk. Touching the tiles or even spilling liquids on them is totally harmless! If your device is equipped with Energysquare technology, all you have to do is place your device on the charging tiles. It will recognize the type of device you are working on, to then charge it safely, efficiently and as fast as your normal charger would through two small electrodes that can for instance be integrated in the anti-slip feet underneath your laptop, or in the case of your phone.

From a school lab to a Lenovo manufacturing plant

What initially started as a research project at one of the leading technical universities in France, Telecom Paris, grew into a larger mission. To bring their technology to market, Timothée and Daniel decided to start a company and called it Energysquare.

Initially, they ran a successful Kickstarter campaign targeting end-users directly. This allowed them to build, sell and ship their own hardware. However, as the aim was to have scalable, wide and integrated adoption of their technology, the team shifted their focus from selling products to end-customers directly, to selling technology on a royalty basis to large electronics companies.

Today, Energysquare is building an impressive ecosystem of partners, willing to adopt and license their technology. Firstly, they validate the willingness to adopt their solution with buyers of huge fleets of computers, such as groups like Renault or Orange. Secondly, they go to large computer manufacturers convincing them to implement their charging technology in their hardware. Lastly, they partner with electrical equipment companies such as Legrand, that will be building, selling and integrating the charging tiles.

Navigating this complex sales network is obviously far from an easy task for a young company, but with their strongly resonating value proposition, patented technology, a well-structured sales process and a team with deep expertise, they are convincing some of the biggest players out there. After winning the CES Best of Innovation Award among more than 4500 companies, they managed to close a technology partnership with Lenovo to integrate Energysquare technology into one of their product families.

A strong team operating a highly scalable model

At Partech, we’ve been following Timothée and Daniel for quite some time. From the beginning, we were impressed by their ambition, resilience and diligence. Since our first interactions, we witnessed their ability to iterate fast and reach impressive milestones. We are happy to back the whole Energysquare team, on their mission to build a new wireless charging standard. We are convinced that if they manage to do so, their royalty-based business model will make them not only a very impactful but also incredibly profitable business.

With the new funds, Energysquare will continue to hire in France, and add a presence in Taiwan and the USA to gain further commercial traction and prove the merit of their technology at scale. 

Visit Energysquare.co for more information.

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