Charging Without Wires
Wireless charging is not a new phenomenon but with Apple’s entry into the wireless space, it is now likely to quickly become a mainstream one. We talked to technology company Chargifi and their CEO and Co-Founder, Dan Bladen to understand a little more about what is waiting on the digital horizon.
Dan Bladen, CEO and Co-Founder of Chargifi, is a 28 year old entrepreneur who is passionate about using technology to solve everyday problems. He came up with the idea for Chargifi while travelling across India and South America with his wife, Jessica, in 2011. Finding power for their phones and devices was their biggest problem and he realised that they made very strategic decisions about coffee shops and restaurants they went into because of the availability of power so they could connect with family and friends back home.
Why should we be interested in wireless charging?
“On the surface, wireless charging is an incredibly convenient way of powering the many portable devices available to us today – removing the need for the cumbersome, highly inconvenient power cable.
“Recent research found that people working in the capital’s cafes are asked to charge customers’ phones around 20 times a day! Wireless charging removes this completely and in the same way you or I would choose a coffee shop because it has Wi-Fi, soon you’ll choose them based on wireless charging too. Wireless charging isn’t just a convenient solution for phone charging, soon we will all be charging laptops and even our cars in the same way!”
Will Apple’s decision to embrace the technology make a difference?
“When Apple decide to do something, everyone sits up and listens. Wireless charging has already been integrated in a number of devices in recent years, including Samsung’s Galaxy S7 and S8, but the technology dates right back to the Palm in 2004. Apple is the game changer when it comes to smartphones and where Apple goes its competitors follow.”
Tell us a little about your solution?
“We offer a wireless charging solution that allows brands to manage, monitor and monetise wireless charging at scale. We already work with Pret A Manger, providing wireless charging hotspots for customers’ phones, tablets and laptops. We supply a transmitter to sit under a surface that is then powered via batteries or DC cabling – no need to make expensive modifications. This means locations no longer need to provide and replace unsightly charging cables constantly.
“The second part of our solution is a cloud-connected management and monitoring platform that can be accessed from a web browser. This ensures locations can remotely monitor and maintain a charging network once it’s in place – from proactive failure detection and response to automatic firmware updating – to keep infrastructure up and running 24/7. Teams can also use the Chargifi software development kit and build wireless charging into their mobile apps so that they can engage with customers whilst they are on the wireless charging network.”
What makes your proposition different?
“Our technology allows brands to deploy wireless charging quickly and seamlessly throughout their public spaces and then to monetise their investment by providing a connection between the business providing wireless power and the user as they charge. This translates to businesses being able to combine Chargifi’s hyper-local location data and blend that with other sources of data such as WiFi. The process carries several advantages as businesses can subsequently understand more about their customers, analysing their behaviour from one particular store location and contextually engaging with consumers whilst they charge. An example of this might be in-seat ordering via wireless charging. This is due to the fact that Chargifi is able to pinpoint the exact seating location of any user in relation to the locations network, in a way that Wi-Fi and beacons cannot due to accuracy limitations.”
Are there different levels of deployment?
“Absolutely. We supply wireless charging solutions across restaurants, events, workspaces as well as to managed service providers and each deployment will be different depending on the requirements of the business as well as the end user. For example, in corporate offices the installs might be in a hot desk environment in one location whereas at Pret a Manger there are multiple points across an array of locations. Furthermore, the business can then choose whether to use our software development kit to build wireless charging into their mobile apps.
“Chargifi has been deployed at some of the world’s largest sporting events, including the Swiss Indoors ATP World Tour in Basel, Switzerland, the National Football League games at Twickenham Stadium, London, and the home of the Atlanta Falcons the Mercedes-Benz stadium in Atlanta (US). Software, in the form of a cloud-connected management and monitoring platform can be accessed from a web browser. This ensures stadiums can remotely monitor and maintain a charging network once it’s in place – from proactive failure detection and response to automatic firmware updating – to keep infrastructure up and running 24/7. The team could also use the Chargifi software development kit and build wireless charging into their mobile apps so that they can engage with fans whilst they are on the wireless charging network.”
Where are we likely to see the first mainstream adoption of the technology in the UK?
“Smartphone use is intrinsic to daily lives – adults are spending almost eight hours each day immersed in media, driven by their use of smartphones*. Consumers can no longer afford to be without their devices and the need for convenient power is at the forefront of their minds – reflected in the fact that 29% revealed wireless charging is now an “essential” phone feature. This demand has resulted in increased expectations for wireless charging – 73% of those surveyed wanting the opportunity to use wireless charging away from home in the immediately.
“As a result we are already seeing major adoptions of wireless technology across well-known locations such as Twickenham Stadium and Pret a Manger. As sales of the latest iPhones progress so will the need for wireless power and this will only increase adoption. However, the next big wireless charging development will go beyond phones to laptops and then we’re likely to see wider adoption in other sectors such as automotive. More than half a dozen large carmakers, including Audi, Ford and Volvo, are soon expected to begin selling electric vehicles (EVs) that can be charged wirelessly.”
Can you give us an idea of your company’s future deployments over the next year?
“With new devices hitting the market every day now wireless charging-enabled, customers will begin to expect venues to be equipped with this amenity. So, we’re now expanding our deployments with existing clients and enabling our partner ecosystem to take wireless power out at scale with us. Consumers will start to see wireless power in most public places from hotels to stadiums and airport lounges, where convenient power is a clear need for all of us – travellers and fans alike need to keep their devices powered up and connected.”
Do we see any enhancements being delivered over the next 12 months?
“Enhancements to our product? The short answer is yes! Chargifi have an exciting product roadmap that builds on the foundational solution that we’ve been developing over the last few years, to really help this market scale. We look forward to sharing more about our plans for the solution with your readers, should they be interested in getting in touch!”
If you would like more information on Chargifi then visit their website here.