About 10 years ago, if you wanted to work outside the home or office, you had to find a location that offered free WiFi. If you were planning on traveling abroad, you planned your stops based on the whether you could easily get on the Internet.
But with the global proliferation of free WiFi, I can now work from McDonald’s to Starbucks to 30,000 feet in the air. Connectivity is rarely an issue.
The problem now, is power (cue Public Enemy song).
Specifically, the power, or lack thereof, stored in the battery of my smartphone. Trying to keep my iPhone charged is a constant struggle. A massively first-world struggle, yes, but a struggle nonetheless.
Companies like Ampy are trying to solve the problem by creating batteries that are charged by kinetic energy, but as noted, those types of devices only work for people who exercise regularly or are in frequent physical motion.
Chargifi, which recently received $2.7 million in funding, is trying to solve the power problem on a broader scale. They want to make it easier for businesses everywhere to offer wireless smartphone charging to their customers.
Business owners can purchase Chargifi dongles and then offer them to their customers. The dongle plugs into the charging port of the customer’s smartphone, and the customer then sets their phone on the Chargifi “Plus” sealed onto a surface, like a coffee table. Using magnetic resonance, the plus sends power to the dongle, which then powers the phone.
To use the dongle, customers must first download the Chargifi app which not only enables the wireless charging, but also allows roamers on low battery power to find the nearest Chargifi stations.
What’s in it for the businesses? Quite a bit, actually.
In addition to the obvious benefit of driving general traffic and customer loyalty, the Chargifi business owner dashboard (fed by the activity captured through the app and the dongle) offers detailed analytics about the behavior of customers. Business owners can track new visitors versus recurring visitors, the average age of their customers, and the length of time customers are staying.
Additionally, through the Chargifi app, businesses can offer customer loyalty promotions, drive customers to social media channels, and even offer up specific advertisements to specific customers. As CEO Dan Baden said to TechCrunch:
Due to Chargifi’s hyper-accurate location ability, matched with demographics, and travel charging patterns we are able to serve very targeted messages to members. Chargifi’s network allows us to not only know what building a person is charging in but what table, what direction they are facing, and in some cases what door they walked into the room from. This allows us to map travel patterns, to demographics, to locations, not only improving digital advertising but also traditional out of home signage as well.
The idea for the company arose when Baden spent 6 months traveling in 2012. He realized that all the venues he visited were determined by the availability of power (read: wall outlets) at said venues. He decided to create a simpler solution.
Chargifi has run trials of their product in 5 different countries, with license partners across another 8 markets.
In the near future, the company hopes to move towards charging with no dongle required at all.
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