Charging your phone, headphones, tablet or other devices can be a juggling act. Each device has its own charger and adapter and all charge at different speeds — however, a Valley company’s recently-launched technology can solve that difficulty with ease.
Co-founders and ASU graduates, CEO Jake Slatnick and CTO Eric Goodchild came up with the idea in 2017 and have been developing the product for the past three years. Slatnick and Goodchild also appeared together in an October 2019 episode of Shark Tank and received a “three-Shark” deal from investors Kevin O’Leary, Robert Herjevec and Lori Greiner.
Slatnick and Goodchild introduced Aira at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Vegas in January 2020 to overwhelmingly positive feedback.
“At CES in January, it was our first unveiling of the technology where we showed people what we were working on and it was a really great experience for us because the overwhelming feedback that we got from everybody was excitement. Everybody saw the problem that we were solving, and saw the elegance of the solution that we’ve created and were excited about it,” Slatnick said.
Aira’s FreePower technology gives consumers the convenience to charge multiple devices, like two phones and a set of wireless earbuds, simultaneously on the surface. Most standard wireless chargers have a small, centered target where devices have to be aligned perfectly to charge; with Aira and FreePower, patented circuitry and proprietary algorithms find and track the device and Sweet Spots are activated to deliver power.
If a charging device, such as a phone, is moved across the surface, the Sweet Spot follows, and the phone continues to charge. Through individualized device communication protocols and intelligent power management, each Sweet Spot delivers the amount of power needed to optimize the charge for each connected device.
“FreePower is based on the Qi standard (pronounced Chee), which is the globally adopted standard for wireless charging that allows devices to be compatible together and be safe for the consumer,” Slatnick said. “There’s a Qi standard that Apple, Samsung, Google and all of the other major phone companies have integrated into their devices, and so that allows companies like ours to create technology on the transmitting side that works with the phones.
“Every wireless charger on the Qi standard works essentially the same way and what that means is there is a small hotspot in the center and if you’re not aligned perfectly you don’t charge,” Slatnick said. “So what we’ve done is build a technology that’s based on the Qi standard making it compatible with every smartphone everyone’s already is walking around with, but that enables freedom of position, so you can place the device or multiple devices anywhere and receive power.”
Aira launched this spring and licenses their technology to companies that offer products such as tablets. “We’re now at a point where it’s being commercialized so it’s in production. Our first partner is a company called Nomad out of Santa Barbara, California, and we’re having conversations with major brands within consumer electronics including some of the smartphone companies and other verticals as well like automotive, imagine having this kind of surface in your car, it doesn’t matter if you turn or hit a bump, the phones can have that freedom to move around and still charge.”
Slatnick said Aira and FreePower can help solve the fundamental flaws with wireless charging with the small spot in the center because if someone doesn’t align their device perfectly to receive power, the device won’t charge.
“We’ve built a system that is convenient, full surface and we can make that surface in any size, so you’ll see our technology in smaller sizes for single devices and larger for tables that will power a keyboard, mouse, phone, headphones, etc.” Slatnick said. “You can place your devices anywhere and it works, and that’s the right experience, not this precision-placement experience that you currently have today.”
“One thing that I really believe we’re doing is evolving the wireless charging industry,” Slatnick said. “This first generation of technology has come out over the past few years and we believe that this is the next generation of wireless charging which is free position, so we’re really excited as a company to help pioneer that and be a part of it.”