Cables and plug sockets will soon become obsolete and devices will charge simply by being in a room with far-field wireless charging, says Dan Bladen.
02 September 2019 | Dan Bladen
Cloud-connected smart wireless charging can deliver huge value in terms of analytics, management and connecting to existing systems. As spending on the IoT soars, expect smart wireless charging to become an integral part of an FM's technology stack.
In most workplaces employees have to request a space to do something 'on-demand' - think of initiating air conditioning or checking into a hot-desk - but in workspaces with smart wireless charging the technology can orchestrate the action based on a user's personal data. Simply placing their phone to charge can trigger their preferred room temperature or seat height.
Workplace IoT is in its infancy, but smart wireless charging is enabling FMs' operational infrastructure and increasing efficiency, productivity, and engagement, and shaping the future of connected buildings.
How does smart wireless charging work?
It is cloud-connected and remotely managed. It connects to an FM's existing systems so it can trigger other actions and provide user analytics. For example, in a meeting room a user places his phone on the charging point, it triggers a 'webhook' that notifies room-booking and videoconferencing systems and, within seconds, the meeting is under way.
This automatic process is connected through API - and Software Development Kit (SDK) if there is an app involved, but an app is not necessarily needed. For instance, with videoconferencing software Zoom, the phone placed on a SmartSpot is enough to trigger a meeting on an integrated calendar, provided that a physical Zoom room has been set up, therefore optimising the room's performance.
The most sophisticated wireless charging SaaS (software as a service) solutions have an open API, facilitating limitless integration and allowing FMs to blend behavioural data, such as hyper-location and dwell time, with existing software.
What about data security?
Big data presents important opportunities to generate value for FMs yet uptake has been slow, as security is a key obstacle. Smart wireless charging points only gather anonymous data on session lengths and times, which is not private data unless tied to a specific person. Until the data is blended with another source that includes identity, it is not private data and does not fall under GDPR law. When using a smart integration - Zoom, Teem or Robin - user data is all owned by the app developer/owner - usually the organisation.
All data is stored securely in the cloud and shared through the cloud platform (only relevant permissions). When integrating smart wireless charging across multiple organisations in a shared workspace, FMs can configure the technology so that each group has separate logins.
The next best action
Smart wireless charging contributes the analytics needed to understand space use in today's smart buildings and supports an FM's decisions about existing assets and operational costs. Walk into your average office and capacity can be as low as 40 per cent and space and energy will be used inefficiently.
With the insights smart wireless charging brings, this will be a challenge of the past. For example, employees in hot-desking workplaces spend two weeks a year looking for a desk. In a building with smart wireless charging a user charging his device can check into that desk, turn power on, and even set his Slack status to 'Working from Desk 17'. Colleagues can see available desks with an easy glance at digital signage or an office app.
Smart wireless charging is a long-term solution that can shape the future of real-time facilities experience. It turns power into a service, adding real value to businesses.
Dan Bladen is CEO at Chargifi