Ex-Apple executive joins startup aimed at banishing smartphone cables

By Stephen Nellis

For over 14 years at Apple Inc, Rubén Caballero had to include a cable with every iPhone design whose wireless engineering he oversaw, from the first prototypes in 2005 to iPhone 11 models on shelves now.

Now, as chief wireless strategist for Silicon Valley startup Keyssa Inc, Caballero hopes to cut the cord for good - for all smartphones. His new position has not been previously reported.

Every iPhone since the first released in 2007 has come with a cable as a failsafe way to transfer data, as has virtually every other brand of phone.

Keyssa wants to end that with its chip that can transfer data nearly as fast as a wire by placing two devices next to each other. Early customer LG Electronics Inc uses the chip to connect the second screen of its LG V50 smart phone.

Wireless charging has taken hold in phones, but wireless data connections like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi remain too finicky to discard cables altogether.

Keyssa has raised more than $100 million from the venture groups at Intel Corp, Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, Foxconn parent Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd and a fund run by Tony Fadell, another former Apple executive who helped create the iPod and then hired Caballero for the original iPhone team.

"Every single consumer product would love to solve the external connector," Caballero, who left Apple earlier this year, said in an interview at Keyssa's headquarters in Campbell, California.

Caballero, a retired Canadian Air Force captain who favors all-black attire, also has his eyes on the inside of phones. There, cables cause engineering headaches.

Camera modules connect to main circuit boards with a thin cables. Bend them enough and they break, creating an unintentional "beautiful antenna" that interferes with cellular data connections, Caballero said.

With Keyssa's chips, camera modules could touch the circuit board to transmit data wirelessly. The chips use high frequencies that cause no interference inside the phone or with nearby devices.

"What's beautiful about this is the frequency," Caballero said. "It just fixes a lot of problems."

Aside from phones, Keyssa is testing chips with video display makers and at least one maker of lidar sensors, the electronic eyes of self-driving cars.

"Ruben is a powerhouse when it comes to commercializing great technology," Fadell told Reuters.

Caballero brings with him experience overseeing more than 1,000 Apple wireless engineers in a department with a budget of$600 million for testing equipment alone.

Before joining Apple, Caballero worked at two startups and relished the frenzied pace there and during his early days at Apple working with Fadell.

When Fadell brought him to Apple in 2005, Caballero asked where all the test equipment and labs were for the group.

"He said, 'We don't have anything, but we'll get it done,'" Caballero said. "You know when has something in his eyes – you can see the vision. After that, I was hooked. I used to sleep under my desk. When you have that passion, it's incredible. And I feel it here."

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

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It hard to find Female to Female USB cable, and if you do you will pay a high price, the Female to Female let you make a universal cable connection

3 ( +3 / -0 )


Most people will not understand you.

I will explain to them. The male cable end is like the plug you put into the wall socket. The female end is the wall socket itself.

This is not sexist nor a politically correct point to make. The terms are used in plumbing, cement work etc.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

For such basic things as recharging and data transfer, redundancy is a very, very, very good thing. I am perpetually amazed by Apple's drive to eliminate the redundancy that solves emergencies and the consumers who purchase stripped down disasters waiting to happen.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

A female-to-female USB is just a coupler

But be warned, just because ya can connect things together doesn't mean it'll work. There's more to technology than being able to physically connect things

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Breaking Apple News Google Apple November 3

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Maybe I'm just old, but I like the option to use cables. Something about being able to see what's connecting to what.

But I take lostrune2's point.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This is not sexist nor a politically correct point to make.

Absolutely sexist. What about differently gendered plugs and sockets?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Probably the reason Apple fired him. Chargers, cables and peripherals are 17% of their revenue stream, more than computers. They are an entertainment company, computers are a sideline these days.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

This is not sexist nor a politically correct point to make.

Absolutely sexist. What about differently gendered plugs and sockets?

What about bidirectional cables

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Today, my non Apple wifi charger stopped working after just 11 months. Better than cables but charges slower than cable.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Today, my non Apple wifi charger stopped working after just 11 months.

Still under the 1-year warranty

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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