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Author Topic: The uBeam FAQ  (Read 207646 times)

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Offline EEVblog

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #325 on: March 26, 2016, 06:29:27 PM »
It should be noted that while an iPhone charger provides 5W of power, 5W is not needed to charge a phone in all cases. Looking at the specs for the iPhone 6, we have a 6.9 Wh battery that has a life of up to 14 h while talking on the phone, 50 h while playing music, and 250 h on standby. This means that, while 5 W would be required to breakeven while talking, only 138 mW would be needed while playing music and 27.6 mW would be needed when the phone is on standby, so 1.07 W is hardly "almost useless" in general, and I would argue that even appreciably extending the battery life of your device while you're out and about is an accomplishment worthy of merit.

Phone chargers usually don't work like that. You can't just give it a few hundred mW of available power and expect it to start charging.

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The idea that a system which consumes hundreds of watts of power to deliver kinda sorta maybe 1 W to your phone sometimes if it's Tuesday and you ate a sesame seed bagel that morning untoasted with cream cheese on the side and you paid with a debit card and the cashier was a green-eyed brunette with a peg leg and a chinchilla named Steve who can recite the periodic table backwards but only if it's greater than 50 degrees Fahrenheit outside could possibly gain widespread commercial use is far more contrived than this paragraph will ever be. It's wasteful, it's stupid, and it's completely undeserving of the recognition uBeam has gained.

A nice concise summary!
Even if they actually produce a product that works and is safe and everything else, the efficiency of it makes it a complete non-starter. It will never catch on, ever. And even if it would catch on, there should be a law against a charger that is sub 1% efficient. They did it with the legislation for the phone charger standby power thing.

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And get this, now Perry is saying she wants to use this system to transmit secure data.........

Ooh, got a link for this gem?

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So now you're telling me you want to introduce a whole host of systemic and algorithmic problems that I suspect your current team has no idea how to address all so I can transmit data TO A PERSON THAT HAS TO ALREADY BE IN THE SAME ROOM WITH ME AT A DATARATE THAT IS SLOWER THAN THE INTERNET CONNECTION ON MY OLD FLIP PHONE???

But you can get extra development money for new ideas like that  ::)
 

Offline Howardlong

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #326 on: March 26, 2016, 06:42:01 PM »
"The same transmitter that we use for power transmission can also be used to transfer highly secure data," Perry said.

http://uk.businessinsider.com/ubeam-wireless-charging-adds-data-2016-2?r=US&IR=T

Oooo let me see now, bandwidth. Hmm, Bandwidth. What sort of bandwidth does she think she'll achieve using ultrasonic?
 

Offline miguelvp

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #327 on: March 26, 2016, 07:20:00 PM »
Oooo let me see now, bandwidth. Hmm, Bandwidth. What sort of bandwidth does she think she'll achieve using ultrasonic?
The same that you can over a 60/50Hz power line but with more losses at a distance since it transmits via air.

Bandwidth wont be a problem, but distance to the transmitter will be, but not as bad as powering over a distance, so it might have some slight practicality on that end, taking into account of course that it would be all downstream because there is no way they could add a transmitter on the device to suck the little energy they'll be feeding it via ultrasound.
 

Offline SeanB

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #328 on: March 26, 2016, 07:49:52 PM »
Power line comms uses the lines as a very ( really really in this case, and incredibly so) lossy differential transmission line, and even though almost all of the 5W or so of transmitted power is radiated as RF noise , the frequency used is very much higher than the 50/60Hz the lines are intended for.

Sending data using ultrasonics means either using FSK, AM or some form of QAM to send it, using the base frequency as a carrier.  With that QAM 256 is around the best, you could get up to ( asterisk, only for the absolutely best case condition under controlled conditions with no reflections and no obstructions with a short direct path) 256 bits for every cycle of the 40kHz carrier. Best case 1.2MB/s with no error correction, no interbit pauses and absolutely no return path acknowledgement ( shared spectrum and such inconveniences of a broadcast medium), along with a very high probability of having audible subharmonics that are going to be incredibly annoying. Add to that any form of error correction ,forward error correction or spread spectrum dithering to reduce audible subharmonics and a return signal path and plain bluetooth is starting to look very good in comparison.
 

Offline mikeselectricstuff

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #329 on: March 26, 2016, 09:47:05 PM »
Sure you can transmit data, but why ? No use whatsoever in the phone application. There might be some super-niche applications where it has advantages over radio but even then, optical would often be a better choice.
And if you then narrow down to those applications that need ultrasonic data and power, it's going to take a loooog time to recoup all the VC money.



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Offline Howardlong

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #330 on: March 26, 2016, 10:42:19 PM »
Power line comms uses the lines as a very ( really really in this case, and incredibly so) lossy differential transmission line, and even though almost all of the 5W or so of transmitted power is radiated as RF noise , the frequency used is very much higher than the 50/60Hz the lines are intended for.

Sending data using ultrasonics means either using FSK, AM or some form of QAM to send it, using the base frequency as a carrier.  With that QAM 256 is around the best, you could get up to ( asterisk, only for the absolutely best case condition under controlled conditions with no reflections and no obstructions with a short direct path) 256 bits for every cycle of the 40kHz carrier. Best case 1.2MB/s with no error correction, no interbit pauses and absolutely no return path acknowledgement ( shared spectrum and such inconveniences of a broadcast medium), along with a very high probability of having audible subharmonics that are going to be incredibly annoying. Add to that any form of error correction ,forward error correction or spread spectrum dithering to reduce audible subharmonics and a return signal path and plain bluetooth is starting to look very good in comparison.

Agreed, although those figures are absolute best possible case.

The upstream will be interesting, or is that out of band, done with RF? In which case, if you have a radio already, why use ultrasonics for radio at all? What benefit does ultrasonics have over RF for data transmission?

In short, I can't see the point, the RF infrastructure already in place (WiFi, 4G, 3G) is pretty mature and ubiquitous, and its performance far outweighs anything you could possibly hope to achieve with ultrasonics.

Disgusting that VCs piss other people's money away on this shit.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #331 on: March 26, 2016, 11:01:14 PM »
along with a very high probability of having audible subharmonics that are going to be incredibly annoying.

That was my immediate first thought.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #332 on: March 26, 2016, 11:27:56 PM »
In short, I can't see the point

There is no point. It's just Perry brain farting up "visionary" ideas again.
http://meredithperry.tumblr.com/

Surely the money can't last much longer? This impractical merry-go-round must end soon  :popcorn:

Interesting recent post by her:
http://meredithperry.tumblr.com/post/136374842310/keeponkeepinon

Possible Translation:
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Never, never, never give up (if you believe in what you’re doing and if you’re not breaking the laws of physics).
Never give up until the money runs out. And then blame anything but the impracticality of the idea.

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There will always be unknown unknowns.  Plan for them.
That alternative plan for when the tech doesn't work as advertised might come in handy.

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Every company needs a strong culture and if somebody isn’t a good fit with your culture, it’s best to part ways no matter how smart or successful they are.
Those pesky engineers said it's not practical, so I gave them the arse.

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Sometimes “reinventing the wheel” is actually a great thing to do.
I finally admit I didn't invent ultrasonic wireless charging.

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Make sure there are never any single points of failure in a system and/or organization.
Engineers who leave are a real PITA.

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Skillset + belief in/passion for the mission + tenacity have been the 3 most important things in evaluating a candidate. 
It's all about belief, just like a religion. If you don't pray 5 times a day for this idea to work, it won't work and you will just dragging the team down, we don't want you.

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Always keep some cards in your back pocket.  You never know when you’ll need them.
I've got a new idea for secure data transmission! That'll show the investors how smart I am.

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Always be honest and always act with integrity.  Check your ego at the door and only do what’s best for the company.

That's why I haven't shown a single prototype since the vero board and calling a multimeter a power meter. I've got nothing to show that really works as claimed, so I haven't shown anything.

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As CEO, you’re a big part of the package.  Your hires need to believe in you as much as they believe in the company.  I hire many people twice my age with 2-3x my experience.  Before I bring them on, I make this difference quite clear: “I’m 26 years old and this is my first real job. I’m your boss, and that’s not going to change.”  If they can’t handle that, it ain’t gonna work.

Be in awe of my ability to extract money from investors that will pay your wages.

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When you hire people who have infinitely more experience than you do, your job changes to empowering and embracing those people.
Except if they tell you something won't work.

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If it smells like a fish, looks like a fish, and tastes like a fish, it’s probably a fish.  Background checks are very useful.

I discovered a candidate who hangs out on this EEVblog forum filled with practical engineers who like to speak their mind, lucky we caught that one!  ;D

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As CEO, it’s your fault if something goes wrong in your company.  Either you didn’t plan well, or you didn’t hire well.  Putting the blame on anyone but yourself is pointless.  Do what you need to do to fix it. 

Unless the entire premise of your company is totally impractical, in which case it's not the founders fault and should never be admitted.

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Don’t get excited until it’s signed.

I can't believe they actually gave me more money!

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People aren’t robots.  Touch the heart.

Engineers like cool toys and working on cool tech for the sake of it. Give them that and they'll believe anything you want them too.

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When you’re trying to get a company off the ground, your life is your company.  Sure it’s a marathon, but it’s also a sprint. You’ll probably lose friends, you’ll probably lose some social skills, you’ll probably gain weight, and you’ll definitely lose sleep.  90% of startups fail, and no matter how difficult the startup, they’re life consuming. This is why you should only start a company that solves a meaningful problem, because when shit hits the fan (and it always does), the only way to keep your company from crumbling is your tenacity and passion.

Like that day it finally dawned on me this thing isn't really practical. That was a fun day.

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We live in an era of clicks.  Journalistic integrity ain’t what it used to be.
Stay above the fray.  There’s a lot of really stupid people on the internet.

Like all those pesky engineers on the EEVblog forum. What losers!
« Last Edit: March 26, 2016, 11:29:34 PM by EEVblog »
 

Offline SeanB

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #333 on: March 26, 2016, 11:32:26 PM »
along with a very high probability of having audible subharmonics that are going to be incredibly annoying.

That was my immediate first thought.

Which large speaker manufacturer was it that was experimenting with non linear mixing in the ear of ultrasonic energies to make a tweeter that would have an incredible frequency response? These guys might be annoyed at this blatant patent infringement from uBeam.
 

Offline mikeselectricstuff

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #334 on: March 27, 2016, 12:06:08 AM »
Which large speaker manufacturer was it that was experimenting with non linear mixing in the ear of ultrasonic energies to make a tweeter that would have an incredible frequency response? These guys might be annoyed at this blatant patent infringement from uBeam.
The maybe http://www.ultrasonic-audio.com/products/acouspade.html
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Never, never, never give up (if you believe in what you’re doing and if you’re not breaking the laws of physics).
The problem is that the laws of physics are only one of many thing you need to consider when determining if a product will work in the real world.
Even if Ubeam worked really well at the physical level, it would still be hopeless as a consumer product.

Case in point - the Upp fuel cell charger does work ( just) , but has no advantages, and multiple disadvantages, over a lithium battery pack. It's just a stupid application of a completely inappropriate technology.


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Offline vaughn22

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #335 on: March 27, 2016, 02:04:55 AM »
It should be noted that while an iPhone charger provides 5W of power, 5W is not needed to charge a phone in all cases. Looking at the specs for the iPhone 6, we have a 6.9 Wh battery that has a life of up to 14 h while talking on the phone, 50 h while playing music, and 250 h on standby. This means that, while 5 W would be required to breakeven while talking, only 138 mW would be needed while playing music and 27.6 mW would be needed when the phone is on standby, so 1.07 W is hardly "almost useless" in general, and I would argue that even appreciably extending the battery life of your device while you're out and about is an accomplishment worthy of merit.

Phone chargers usually don't work like that. You can't just give it a few hundred mW of available power and expect it to start charging.


Ah, see I don't know too terribly much about powering electronics (I'm mainly an antenna engineer). I just assumed that if energy in > energy out, then charging (even trickle charging) was theoretically possible, but it now occurs to me that it's probably more complicated than that so I'll take your word for it. Oh look, I admitted I was probably wrong, something Meredith Perry is incapable of doing.

And Howardlong provided the link, but here it is again:

http://uk.businessinsider.com/ubeam-wireless-charging-adds-data-2016-2?r=US&IR=T

 

Offline SeanB

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #336 on: March 27, 2016, 07:03:48 AM »
Cellphone chargers are funny that way. Provide a small voltage to them over a certain level and the phone wakes up, turns on the charge circuitry and starts trying to charge, polling the voltage and current to see if it is charging. If you never reach the level it starts to charge properly it actually discharges the battery faster by the extra circuitry being active, and the charge controller being out of the deep sleep near zero power state.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #337 on: March 28, 2016, 02:08:10 PM »
Ah, see I don't know too terribly much about powering electronics (I'm mainly an antenna engineer). I just assumed that if energy in > energy out, then charging (even trickle charging) was theoretically possible, but it now occurs to me that it's probably more complicated than that so I'll take your word for it. Oh look, I admitted I was probably wrong, something Meredith Perry is incapable of doing.

Well it is theoretically and also practically possible, but only if you design your phone with charging circuitry with that requirement in mind from the start.
The problem is most (all?) phone are not designed that way, they expect a certain minimum power requirement. Not uncommon to see warning against this, like "5V 500mA" charger minimum (as that is the regular USB standard)
Anything less than that and charging operation is usually not guaranteed or even possible. Good products (like some USB charging cameras for example) will detect this and not charge at all.
 

Online amspire

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #338 on: March 28, 2016, 03:34:36 PM »
As well as the urgently needed low speed ultrasonic data transfer capability, there is another positive claim uBeam can add to this product. Apparently the lethal 20kHz sound level for mice is 144dB  for 10s to 3min through overheating in their body. Probably higher frequencies will have the same effect. Just no end to the benefits!

But we should make allowances for the uBeam developers. According to a study by L. Markiewicz in 1978:
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Workers exposed to noise emitted by ultrasound devices suffered from increased neural excitability, irritation, memory problems and difficulties with concentration and learning
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #339 on: March 30, 2016, 07:41:43 PM »
Serious research in a paper by The Royalty Society that weighs in on the safety debate and mentions uBeam specifically which is very telling:
http://rspa.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/472/2185/20150624
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #340 on: March 30, 2016, 07:50:25 PM »
uBeam Faceook post:

The joke hasn't ended yet, they are expanding!

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uBeam has officially expanded! Our Silicon Valley office opens April 4th, and we're tripling the size of the team over the next 9 months. Hiring electrical engineers, transducer design engineers, ultrasonic physicists, mechanical engineers, and vision engineers.

So after all these years of development and 10's of millions of dollars spent, why do they still need transducer design engineers?
Maybe they couldn't hire people last time? Or they have left maybe?
And "vision engineers" tells you a lot. I recon that means their positional system has failed so they now have to incorporate leading edge image tracking technology in order for the beam forming array to follow the phone.
It's folly down a rabbit hole  :palm:

And why open another office in silicon valley. That tells me the haven't been able to hire good people, and they probably think it's the location in Santa Monica that's the problem, when it's really that good engineers can smell a dead project a mile away.
« Last Edit: March 30, 2016, 08:13:10 PM by EEVblog »
 

Offline rx8pilot

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #341 on: March 31, 2016, 10:00:11 AM »
I should see if they will hire me. The pay is probably rather good and I never have to worry if my designs work at all. Take the money and run!  :-DD

Thank you EEVBlog for all the support in the Keysight Test to Impress Giveaway voting!
 

Online amspire

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #342 on: March 31, 2016, 10:25:55 AM »
I should see if they will hire me. The pay is probably rather good and I never have to worry if my designs work at all. Take the money and run!  :-DD

You will have wear industrial grade noise protectors all day for safety. Not sure what will be more dangerous though - the ultrasonic beams or the verbal noise.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #343 on: March 31, 2016, 10:42:48 AM »
You gotta wonder if the people at uBeam actually use prototypes to charge their own phones?
 

Online amspire

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #344 on: March 31, 2016, 10:57:43 AM »
You gotta wonder if the people at uBeam actually use prototypes to charge their own phones?
If someone could film the whole thing inside their labs, this would be a fabulous reality TV show. Imaging the design team meetings, and the look on peoples faces when they measure the power transfer. People trying to pretend that the great big heavy box they attach to the phone is cool.

Edit: Sorry for the mistake - I accidentally said "reality TV show"
« Last Edit: March 31, 2016, 11:01:16 AM by amspire »
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #345 on: March 31, 2016, 11:05:03 AM »
Edit: Sorry for the mistake - I accidentally said "reality TV show"

Unfortunately it is reality that people are delusional enough to still work on this.
 

Offline rx8pilot

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #346 on: March 31, 2016, 11:24:48 AM »
It seems so much harder to make real things. This trend toward making a lot of money by simply saying you have a revolutionary idea is awesome. I could fiddle around, get a sweet office, a ton of cool pieces of test gear.  But the real win is that I don't have to work at delivering which is what consumes almost all of my time running a legitimate business. Every time someone gives me money, they expect a product in return and that is a serious hassle.

I have a new product called the cBeam. This revolutionary gadget is a cerebral implant that beams all of your thoughts directly to the cloud where it is stored securely. All of your thoughts are muxed into a single serial data stream so that you will never need to think on your own ever again. Our proprietary analysis algorithm can take all those thoughts and tell you what you are thinking any time you think about thinking. Of course many neurologists said this was totally impossible and futurists have claimed it will be a social disaster. I disagree and with my extensive experience in machining parts and most recently reading about electronics on the internet we can do this if we only have a few deep pocketed investors that want to get in on the ground floor of an amazing opportunity. Seriously - this is serious shit. Send your money now so we can get started (partying) right away.
Thank you EEVBlog for all the support in the Keysight Test to Impress Giveaway voting!
 

Online amspire

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #347 on: March 31, 2016, 11:56:47 AM »
Unfortunately it is reality that people are delusional enough to still work on this.
If they are smart, they will be using this money to develop some product or technology that can be marketed - such as making new ultrasonic transducers that are not currently available, an ultrasonic tracking technology, a power transfer ability for hostile environments. Perhaps transferring power to instrumentation on a very noisy HV line right next to a 500KV DC converter. With the amount of money they have, they should be able to get some product out of it. Being smart and being ethical though are two different issues.

With all the money they have, it does mean they can setup a lab with (hopefully) smart people and have a budget to pay for real development work. The truth is we do not know what they actually are working on at all and so I cannot say whether this is delusional or cynical.

A company like Acorn Computers in the UK was never going to be competitive long term in the PC market, but along the way, they did develop the ARM cpu core that is now dominant. Acorn did have real working products of course.

If uBeam are dumb, they will be doing a desperate uBeam or bust strategy. If they are smart, uBeam will probably die, but another company will appear with no debts, and with a marketable technology that is nothing to do with the uBeam concept.
« Last Edit: March 31, 2016, 12:01:39 PM by amspire »
 

Offline Fungus

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #348 on: March 31, 2016, 04:12:43 PM »
If uBeam are dumb, they will be doing a desperate uBeam or bust strategy.

It's not about being dumb or not. Meredith has just spent years dissing the geeks, she HAS to prove that she's RIGHT.
 

Offline Howardlong

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #349 on: April 01, 2016, 04:14:04 AM »
You gotta wonder if the people at uBeam actually use prototypes to charge their own phones?

I am sure they do, but they can't hear you anymore.
 


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