System semiconductor startup SKAi Chips has received 1.6 billion won in investment from a listed South Korean fabless company in its Series A funding round, the company said on Wednesday.
The investment was thanks to SKAi’s competence in analog mixed signal chip designs, the startup said.
SKAi Chips started from Sungkyunkwan University’s integrated circuit lab in April, 2019.
It received a seed investment of 350 million won from KingoSpring, P&P Investment and C&Venture Partners last year.
SKAi Chips CEO Lee Kang-yoon was a founding member of GCT Semiconductor, a US subsidiary of South Korean fabless company Anapass.
GCT specializes in RF chips. Lee was the design manager there. He was a professor at Sungkyunkwan University from 2012 and started the company last year.
SKAi recently developed a 5.2GHz short distance wireless charging RF one-chip prototype. The chip allows for electronic devices with it installed to charge each other at distance. The technology has been registered as SKAi Wave by the startup.
Currently commercialized wireless charging technology requires devices to be in contact with each other. They are based on the Qi standard set by the WPC.
SKAi’s is based on the AirFuel standard that supports RF. AirFuel Alliance was set up in 2015. The standard allows devices to be apart by up to 5 meters for wireless charging.
Charging efficiency decreases with distance but it allows for handsets to be used while charging, the company said. Its chip also supports power transmitting unit technology which will allow multiple devices to be charged simultaneously.
CEO Lee said as the Qi standard is dominant in the market, SKAi will have its technology sync with Qi so that both contact and short distance charging is offered in its solution.
SKAi has also applied artificial intelligence to its solutions. The RF module will use machine learning to improve device recognition so that the charging beams becomes more accurate. This will allow RF to minimize human contact and increase power efficiency, the startup said.
SKAi will secure a stable revenue stream by collaborating on the solution with conglomerates and mid-sized companies, it said. It was currently developing a chip with BLE technology with its fabless investor, it said. The company’s predecessor, the integrated circuit lab at the university, has already developed technology for Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics and Samsung Electro-Mechanics.