Chargifi & Smart Cities

Dan spent some time earlier this month speaking with the fine people over at Smart Cities World.


Wireless charging: the new connectivity?

Sue Weekes talks to Dan Bladen, co-founder of UK SME Chargifi, which is on a mission to make wireless charging smart

Dan Bladen is in no doubt that the power cable is the last cord that needs to be cut, describing it as the “only barrier to true mobility”. “From smartphones to laptops, electric vehicles to drones, connected power in public locations is now essential for the transformation of global mobility,” says the co-founder and CEO of wireless charging implementer, Chargifi. “The power cable will go the same way as the network cable and it’s imminent.”

Bladen believes power is a building block of today’s digital economy but is one that has been overlooked. “It hasn’t been turned into a digital commodity in the same way wi-fi, Bluetooth and other forms of connectivity have. “Power is like something from the late 1800s that we still plug in. Even the design of how we plug in has not changed,” he says.

Wireless charging is set to change all that though. Put simply, wireless charging makes use of an electromagnetic field to transfer energy between two objects and therefore liberates device owners from the need to find an electric socket to charge up.

Explosive market growth

The market for wireless power has seen explosive growth and is estimated to be worth $37.2bn by 2022 in the Business Wire Wireless Charging Market Report 2017 with more devices likely to be released with wireless power in 2017. Dell announced its first laptop with wireless power at this year’s CES.

Momentum is building and it isn’t just about announcements from device manufacturers. Chargifi is working with a number of other companies including Qualcomm to build the AirFuel Resonant wireless charging ecosystem in China. This includes supporting the development of Shenzhen into an AirFuel Resonant-powered smart city (see link below).

Chargifi’s focus is the monitoring, managing and monetising of wireless charging. As Bladen explains, the company looked closely at how wi-fi was able to scale through technologies from companies such as Aruba (acquired by HP) and Meraki (acquired by Cisco).

“These guys perfected the ability to scale wi-fi without having to have lots of networks and over-heavy management,” he says. “It worked well for lean IT distributions environments such as offices, hotels and restaurants and meant an IT manager could sit anywhere in world and see how their wireless network was performing. In the old days, if you went somewhere offering wireless connectivity, you’d see large numbers of access points but these have gone and are now replaced by one giant access point.”

As a parallel, Bladen explains that a single hotel chain with wireless charging in the bars, bedrooms and restaurants could easily find itself with up to 400 charging spots per hotel. When scaled up across the chain, this could increase to more than 5,000.

“If you are a systems integrator deploying wireless charging you have no idea how the hardware is performing, nor whether it is working, you can’t update firmware, and you can’t help that venue engage with an application. You basically have no smart cities element,” he says.

Chargifi is building out an Internet of Things (IoT) layer to provide this much needed smartness. It has patents around how you can manage and monitor wireless charging in public spaces and works with system integrators all over the world to help them deploy wireless charging with its software. “Chargifi turns wireless charging hardware into a service,” says Bladen. “Without it, your hardware is just dumb, commoditised plastic.”

‘Battery anxiety’

Bladen got the idea for the company after travelling around the world for six months in 2012 and realised that decisions about where they were going were often dictated by which venues had power sockets so they could re-charge to remain connected with family and friends at home. He once again draws a parallel with the problem wi-fi had previously. “Six years ago the problem would have been connectivity but today the problem is power,” he says.

Surveys carried out by the company have backed up his view that lack of power is seen as major issue in today’s society and that wireless charging is going to be a standard requirement for smartphones imminently.

“It’s already being considered a utility amongst consumers. Our OnePoll research has demonstrated that ‘battery anxiety’ is a current concern,” he says. “One in five of us (22 per cent) say that the worst time to run out of battery is on the way to meet our friends and family, with 19 per cent saying it is when we are travelling abroad or to a meeting.

“Being ‘charged up’ is clearly critical with almost half of people (4 per cent) saying wireless charging should be made an amenity in public spaces, taking precedence over bottomless drinks [flat-fee drinking] and cloakrooms.”

Competing standards

One of the main issues facing the wireless charging industry though is that it has competing charging standards, namely the AirFuel Alliance and the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC). Chargifi has the advantage of being a member of both and its software platform works with both standards.

“We’re the only agnostic provider of wireless power,” says Bladen, describing the situation as being like wi-fi in 1999 before Intel Centrino came along and put it straight into laptops. “Before then you had to have PCMA or a USB dongle to get onto wi-fi.

"Big chip makers, like Intel and Qualcomm, are putting their weight behind wireless power now and with Apple and Huawei to name just two companies that recently joined wireless charging standard bodies, the ‘Centrino moment’ for wireless power is not going to be too far away.”

Meanwhile, the company is busy realising its ambitious expansion plans. It is working across industry sectors and opening up new relationships with organisations such as Pret A Manger (where it is extending its charging spots to more outlets), The Clubhouse and Imperial College London.

In such venues, the charging transmitter typically goes under a table in a public space. A user puts their phone or laptop on top in a particular zone and it charges. “It is amazingly magical,” says Bladen. “With the AirFuel magnetic resonance, you can actually hold your phone in your hand above the table and it will still charge.”

Ultimately, wireless charging is likely to become as normal a feature of devices as Bluetooth but in the interim period users can borrow a wireless charging key from the venue offering the charging service.

Increasing dwell time

Chargifi has seen a 20 per cent increase in dwell time since November in venues which have its software with people sitting down and charging for longer. “It means people are getting used to it and changing their charging habits,” he says. “It is instinct to put your phone down on a table so it might as well be charging. We’re seeing people snacking on charging and lithium-ion batteries like it. They don’t like full charges or discharges, that is an old-school alkaline battery thing.”

The advantage for venues and retail outlets is that even a 1 per cent increase in dwell time reportedly leads to a 1.3 per cent increase in sales. Chargifi has also carried out research that found 54 per cent of women said they would likely spend up to £15 more if they were able to charge up at a venue.

“So we are trying to change it from being seen not just as providing a qualitative improvement for buildings and venues that is seen as cool and which enhances the customer experience, but also something that has a quantitative reason to deploy in terms of revenue.”

Further international expansion

In the consumer electronics side of the market, Chargifi would appear to be without a rival, having what it claims is the only truly agnostic software platform that works with magnetic induction and magnetic resonance. Bladen says if there is a competitor in terms of software management, it is in the electric vehicle (EV) space.

The company has filed for some intellectual property (IP) around controlling wireless charging sessions in wearables, tablets and smartphones through to EVs. Without doubt it has some of the most important IP for the IoT side of wireless charging in public spaces. And while it isn’t making any announcements, as the company matures and looks for other ways to monetise its software, it may explore how it could be applied in markets that make use of larger batteries.

With partners across nine markets including Hong Kong, Singapore, Russia and most recently Switzerland, where tech entrepreneur Michael Rava recently signed a licensing deal, it is powering further international expansion for the business. It also recently joined with companies from around the world in Taiwan to talk about the importance of IoT management to enable wireless power to scale in smart cities at the Taiwan Association of Information and Communication Standards (TAICS). Bladen predicts Q3 and Q4 could see a number of significant developments for the market. “And we are constantly aiming to contribute to an always-on, 24/7 world.”

The Hidden Power of Wireless Charging

People rely on their devices for everything today, from organising their social life to managing their working day. Providing convenient, wireless power in a venue means businesses have the opportunity to add real value to their customers' day.

Now, being seen to be the saviour from 'Battery Anxiety' is one thing, but bringing convenient power into public places isn't just about keeping our devices alive. Businesses and customer facing brands have the opportunity to understand more about their customers during the charging experience and engage with them relevantly, during that charge time.

This Summer, we are launching an intelligent marketing solution for those brands seeking to rescue ‘Battery Anxious’ customers and to learn more about them. The package was devised following our OnePoll research earlier last year [i] which showed that ‘Battery Anxiety’ is at its peak when it comes to social situations; with almost half of people (44%) saying wireless charging should be made an amenity in public spaces, and over 50% of all respondents saying they’d be willing to spend up to £15 in a venue just to access power when they need it.

This package offers brands the chance to save customers from their anxiety by bringing charging spots to busy spaces such as stadiums, airports, hotels, bars and restaurants, with their branding featuring on the wireless charging keys, charging surfaces and through an integration with their mobile app.

Contact us for further information on integrating convenient, intelligent, wireless charging into your brand experience.

[i] OnePoll research was conducted between 06/10/2016 and 13/10/2016 with 2,000 respondents

Enabling the Workforce of Today and Tomorrow

Article by Laura Pevehouse, Chief blogger at Dell:

So it was great to hear during the Workforce Transformation session at Dell EMC World this week that Dell is taking mobility one step further with the industry’s first wireless charging solution.

First announced at CES in January, the Dell Latitude 7000 2-in-1 goes for sale in the US on June 1 with optional wireless charging pad and dock which wirelessly connects you to power and your display for a first-of-its kind wireless desktop experience.

“The trick is in the keyboard,” notes The Verge. “The Latitude 7285 is a 2-in-1 hybrid. That means 100 percent of its components fit inside the tablet display, which can be attached to one of three accompanying keyboards to create a clamshell laptop. One of these keyboards communicates with Dell’s new wireless charging pad. So when you place the 7285 down on the mat with the keyboard attached, the power bypasses the keyboard and goes straight to the computer.”

It’s just one of our many PCs on display in the Solutions Expo at Dell EMC World this week, where we’re showcasing products designed for the many ways that people work today.

And Dell is also thinking about the way people will work in the future.

Fifteen years from now we’ll have another 1000 times the power, speed, efficiency and capacity that we have today. Next generation PCs will marry the traditional keyboard and mouse to speech recognition, gesture, predictive tools and services to create more natural ways of working and improve collaboration.

We will have richer, more immersive experiences with Augmented and Virtual Reality – once a fantasy concept for gamers – soon to transform how work gets done in manufacturing, construction, training and other business processes.

The digitization of everything will be here – more than 20 billion connected devices by 2020; more than one trillion by 2050 – will increase productivity, speed up decision making while improving outcomes.

Of course, with all of these fast, untethered workhorses in the hands of billions of people, security has become even more critical. Did you know that 95 percent of breaches originate with the end user? So protecting the datacenter starts with protecting the device.

That means more than creating strong passwords. But, that’s ok, because listening to our customers has enabled us to build solutions that can help do this. Dell is ready to make a work/life blend possible for the workers that power the companies that understand and embrace the changing way we work.

They will be the leaders in the digital transformation. They will be the ones who unlock the power of their people; free up IT to manage change not technology; and invest in strategic priorities and innovate for the future.


AirFuel Alliance Supports China’s Smart Cities Initiative with New Resonant Wireless Charging Ecosystem in Shenzhen

AirFuel members Qualcomm, Boeone, Chargifi, MGE Group, NewVastek, and ON Semiconductor working together to deploy resonant-based products and infrastructure; drive broader adoption of AirFuel standards

AirFuel™ Alliance, the leading authority on wireless power and standards, announces the launch of its first resonant-based smart city ecosystem in Shenzhen City, China. The AirFuel resonant ecosystem will provide wireless charging service in a variety of public venues including the airport, subway stations, hotels, restaurants, and shopping malls, making it easy for Chinese consumers and businesses to enjoy a world without wires. This new milestone helps underscore AirFuel’s continued growth and leadership in resonant technology, which will be celebrated today at a special event in Shenzhen City, hosted by its members and ecosystem leaders Qualcomm, Chargifi, Boeone, MGE Group, NewVastek and ON Semiconductor.

The ecosystem will begin with deployments of resonant-based charging stations in office buildings and hotels and expand from there, helping to support Shenzhen’s vision of a more connected city, capable of integrating information, communication and IoT technology wirelessly. AirFuel resonant technology is ideal for smart city environments as it allows for multiple devices to be charged at the same time, across a wider surface area – no need for consumers to perfectly align their devices with a charging pad as the increased spatial freedom lets people move and use their devices while they charge. Resonant also eliminates the headache of infrastructure installation – instead of drilling or cutting holes in surfaces (from wood to stone to concrete), transmitters can be mounted underneath, saving time and money.

“The Shenzhen resonant-powered smart city initiative highlights our member’s leadership in public infrastructure development – a critical factor in increasing wireless charging adoption worldwide,” said Ron Resnick, AirFuel Alliance president and chairman.  “In a relatively short time period, AirFuel has enabled more than 4,000 resonant-based public charging spots throughout the world and we’re excited to be expanding to Shenzhen City, China.  Key players in the wireless charging ecosystem are seeing the inherent benefits of this next-gen technology for public infrastructure, enterprise and home, and are creating and commercializing resonant-based products and solutions needed to power the industry.”

Shenzhen Wireless Charging Seminar
As part of the kick off of the new resonant wireless charging initiative in Shenzhen, AirFuel members are holding a half-day seminar aimed at increasing awareness of the build out and how it will benefit consumers and businesses. Qualcomm, MGE Group, NewVastek, Boeone, ON Semiconductor and Chargifi created the “Shenzhen City/Dongguan City Qualcomm Wireless Charging Technology Seminar” which runs from 12:00 pm – 5:30 pm today at the InterContinental Hotel in Shenzhen City and includes live demos. Speakers include AirFuel exec Jim Perrott and leaders from Chargifi, Qualcomm, and ON Semiconductor, and attendees will include members of the Shenzhen business and government communities.

More APAC Market Development
To support AirFuel’s work with Shenzhen City and throughout Asia, the organization is expanding its team with the addition of Joon Park as its new director of market development.  Joon will join Jim Perrott, AirFuel’s head of global market development, in increasing adoption of AirFuel’s industry-leading technologies and broadening relationships with key companies in the consumer electronics, technology and public and private infrastructure spaces.  

Joon brings more than 25 years of engineering, operations and business management experience to AirFuel along with a deep understanding of the wireless power market and the unique challenges and needs of the Asian market. He comes to AirFuel from IDT, where he was in charge of worldwide wireless charging business development, working closely with device manufacturers to achieve over $100 million in sales. His technical background in power management combined with his proven success at product development will make him not only a great advocate for AirFuel, but a great resource for current and potential members.

About AirFuel Alliance
AirFuel Alliance is an association dedicated to building a global wireless charging ecosystem based on best in industry inductive, resonant and future wireless charging technology. AirFuel Alliance's mission is to bring a diverse base of interoperable products to the global market that deliver the best wireless charging experience for consumers. Further, the Alliance continues to address future, non-magnetic technologies including RF, ultrasound and lasers that deliver power at a distance.

The organization membership is made up of leading technology and consumer electronics companies, including board of directors companies Dell, Duracell, Energous, Gill Electronics, ON Semiconductor, Powermat Technologies, Qualcomm Inc., Samsung Electronics, Semtech, Starbucks and WiTricity.


Thursday Is The New Friday To Recharge This Spring

It’s long been suspected, but new data from wireless charging company Chargifi confirms that Thursday is indeed the new Friday. Analysing a data set of 10,000 charging sessions since the beginning of this year, the company has identified that 3pm on a Thursday is the busiest day of the week when it comes to re-charging our batteries.

OnePoll research commissioned by Chargifi has demonstrated that ‘Battery Anxiety’ is at its peak when it comes to our social lives; with most people charging up devices on a Thursday afternoon, prior to the rest of the evening’s activities. Indeed, one in five of us (22%) say that the worst time to run out of battery is on the way to meet our friends and family, with 19% saying it is when we are travelling abroad or to a meeting.

Being ‘charged up’ is clearly critical to a night on the town with almost half of people (44%) saying wireless charging should be made an amenity in public spaces, taking precedence over bottomless drinks and cloakrooms.

Chargifi gives venues such as coffee shops, bars, hotels and work spaces, the ability to offer customers a free wireless charging service for their devices. The company was born after its CEO and Co-Founder, Dan Bladen, went travelling for six months and found many of the places he visited weren’t set up to let him charge his devices, leaving him cut off from the outside world.

Dan Bladen comments, “People rely on their devices for everything today, from organising their social life to managing their working day, so providing convenient power whenever and wherever people need it is what we do.

We’ve all seen how Dell is incorporating wireless charging technology into their latest laptop. Wireless charging is a necessity in venues and workspaces across the country – this data demonstrates the importance of providing convenient power whether you’re looking to engage more customers or improve employees’ productivity.”

Adam Blaskey, CEO at The Clubhouse, London’s leading business club agrees “We installed Chargifi at The Clubhouse because we wanted to create an inspirational, productive, space for our clients to meet and work. With an average charging time of 45 minutes we can see that for our members and visitors, charging as an absolute necessity to a productive environment.”