Having a product installed in Buckingham Palace is pretty impressive, yet that’s exactly what Chargifi CEO Dan Bladen has managed to achieve with his new wireless charging solution.
The market for wireless power is expected to reach $20 billion by 2020, so it’s surprising that the amount of software solutions available is still relatively small. Initially starting off as an idea while jetting around the world, Chargifi has just secured a $3.4 million investment from Intel and was named one of the top 100 disruptive brands by Marketing Week. The software-based solution aims to give businesses greater control of their wireless charging infrastructure, with tailored monitoring tools offering statistical information.
“After going in and out of coffee shops in South America and India, we quickly realised a need to make strategic decisions about the availability of power sockets to recharge our smartphone devices.”
Bladen saw an opportunity to provide software implementation for charging points and, upon arriving back in the UK, hedged his bets on satisfying a need for the technology in public spaces.
“My wife and I used most of our savings to get the company off the ground in 2013. By April 2014, just 18 hours before my daughter was born, we got our first round of investment.”
Types of Induction
Currently, wireless charging transmitters consist of two types of technologies, magnetic induction (Powermat) and magnetic resonance (QI). The latter is backed up by some big names including Qualcomm and Intel among others. It uses a frequency band of 6.78mhz to transfer power across the magnetic field. In the actual transmitters themselves, a hardware layer provides connectivity and charging functionality, while a software component offers monitoring and smart capabilities. Chargifi produces the software component that makes any wireless charging transmitter smart.
“We take advantage of that technology; we don’t build the hardware. Our focus is on the software that powers these transmitters in public spaces.”
“Without Chargifi, wireless chargers are just dumb pieces of hardware. We can turn these into a service. That’s our focus, to provide enterprise software that allows venues to manage their wireless charging estate.”
Chargifi is smart
Both magnetic induction and resonance each have their own pros and cons. The former provides a higher energy output for faster charging rates, though the distance at which it operates is much shorter. For convenience, resonance seems to be the desired choice for situations where multiple devices want to use the same pad. Chargifi supports both formats, though the company is partial to resonance technology as it allows for more freedom.
“We prefer to deploy Airfuel Resonance wireless charging technology. The reason for this is because we can power multiple devices per transmitter. This means they can place their devices across a large area and charge their phones through tables – there’s no need for drilling a hole into your table.”
In essence, Chargifi is pretty simple. The company supply wireless charging software to business and enterprise markets, which is used in conjunction with a hardware transmitter for added functionality and monitoring. While other solutions such as Powermat offer a similar experience, Chargifi is the first to give data capturing features to businesses. Customers at a venue download the Chargifi application to connect their device, before placing it on a pad to begin charging. Using the application as monitoring platforms for users, a business can log into the Chargifi dashboard at any time for real-time analytics such as customer usage and even control the hours wireless charging is available.
Backed by big brands
Technology such as this is rarely useful in the home and consumer space, where users will have maybe one wireless charger in the house which is shared between families. This changes for enterprise users, where large-scale wireless charging implementations need some form of monitoring software to manage usage. The company is working to deploy Chargifi into some of the world’s top brands and business infrastructures, including Intel and npower. Dan offers a simple example to demonstrate the uses of Chargifi:
“Imagine you owned a Marriott hotel estate in London at a franchise. Each one has about 75 rooms with two wireless chargers in each room. That’s a lot of chargers. Without Chargifi there’s no way to see what’s going on with those wireless chargers remotely and no central management service to upgrade firmware or fix bugs.”
Business isn’t just the only area where Chargifi could prove useful, as the company has also started a partnership with the University of Greenwich to provide monitored wireless charging solutions on campus. Hélène Mallauran, User Services Manager at the University of Greenwich said, “Working with Chargifi allows us to provide a fantastic solution to a real problem for students – simply staying charged throughout their day”.
Potential customers can access the service by subscribing to the Chargifi network. An initial fee will be charged to get companies up and running; after that an ongoing subscription fee will be applied for the continued running of the solution, based on the number of charging spots. The subscription package includes tools to analyse the impact of wireless charging while helping to engage with the customer during the charging experience.
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