Solace Power won the Sixth Sikorsky Entrepreneurial Challenge in 2015. Now Sikorsky and Solace are working together to develop new products around Solace’s wireless power technology. If you are considering an application to the next E-Challenge, Solace Power demonstrates the characteristics that have already succeeded.
Wireless Power — inspired by way too many chargers and cords.
For Solace Power, there is no such thing as overnight success.
Kris McNeil founded the company in 2007. His background included developing software for mobile phones just as the transition from flip phones began. He found himself in a hotel room one night preparing for a meeting with potential customers, entangled in a nest of chargers and cords. He thought there must be a better way.
McNeil’s vision was to “decouple” battery-powered devices – cut the cords — from their charging sources. Wireless charging was the answer, but there were still plenty of questions about how to make the technology work.
The chief standard for wireless charging is called resonant magnetic induction. Solace uses a different method, which it has trademarked as Resonant Capacitive Coupling, or RC2.
RC2. allows for greater “spatial tolerance,” which means the device being charged does not have to be coupled so closely to the charging station. Current wireless chargers for cell phones, for example, require the phone to lie directly on the charging pad. Spatial tolerance allows the phone to be nearby, but without the requirement to place the phone in a cradle.
(You may have heard of a couple of other companies that promise wireless charging with sound or radio waves. One, Ubeam, has been the subject of unfavorable press when its chief engineer said the technology wouldn’t work.)
Neil Chaulk, Solace Vice President of Business Development, said the
company has 21 customers; they all have hired Solace for engineering and research in aerospace, defense, automotive and other industrials. The long-term goal for Solace, he said, is to license its technology to other companies. In September, the company announced the first of those deals with Rockford, MI – based Byrne, a leading power and data solutions company.
Chaulk said he believes Solace is the only company in the world that is working to sell RC2. technology. The advantages from the approach should go well beyond cell phones. For instance, drones could benefit from quick, wireless charging, as well as automotive and office products. (To see a demo of Solace’s tech in action, click here.
The technology might also enable communication between sensors and devices that must be constantly monitored. Such an advance would be especially beneficial to a helicopter manufacturer that is trying to reduce aircraft weight by eliminating traditional batteries and cables.
An upcoming installment of TechAloft will detail how Solace won the sixth E-Challenge, and how Solace and Sikorsky have worked together in the two years since.