- Yuval Boger
The future wireless world of the hospitality industry
Long-range wireless power will become the next sought-after technology for hoteliers. Like Wi-Fi, it will help guests achieve true mobility, encourage loyalty and generate revenue. Long-range wireless power will provide an almost-magical experience for guests. Phones would appear to charge themselves. All this, without requiring power outlets, cords or Qi charging pads.
Guests of all types – children, senior citizens, business travelers – want to carry their mobile devices with them. They always feel the need to stay connected. Unfortunately, the batteries of today’s phones often do not last a full day. This results in battery anxiety – the fear of disconnecting from work, friends and family. Some consumers address this by keeping power cords and adapters handy. Others don’t leave home without a spare battery to ‘hot swap’. Regardless of the solution, the problem is universal.
Hotels attempted to address mobile battery anxiety in several ways. One option was installing USB ports in rooms and public spaces. Another was placing Qi charging pads throughout the property.
Whether in guest rooms or public spaces, these solutions have serious limitations. USB charging ports only work if guests have the right cable. Qi charging pads only work on Qi-compatible phones. Guests need to carefully align the phone with the pad. Both Qi pads and USB charging ports tether the charging device (and thus the guest) to the designated charging area. Furthermore, charging pads need to receive energy from an electrical outlet. As a result, these charging stations can only be installed in certain locations. For instance, consider a coffee shop. Charging pads can exist alongside the wall, but not in the middle of a floor. By the same token, pads could not work on a cocktail table on the lobby floor.
“Long-range wireless charging”, a new, cutting-edge technology, promises a better future. It can charge mobile devices without cables or Qi charging pads, in a way that is completely wire-free. Here’s how it works: a compact energy transmitter sends invisible beam of infra-red light. A small ‘solar cell’ converts this light into electricity. This electricity can directly charge the device. It can also power a Qi pad afar from a power outlet. The result? Charging stations that can be placed anywhere – on a bar to, in the lobby, or in a large convention area. Free from power outlets, these pads can be arranged as needed. Future phones might have these ‘solar cells’ embedded, so they won’t even need a charging ‘station’. These future phones will seem to charge themselves without user intervention.
Charging mobile devices completely wire-free will be attractive to guests and hoteliers alike. Guests can enjoy an extra convenience and, in the future, will prefer hotels that provide this service. Hoteliers can entice their guests to stay longer at the bar, poolside or in the lobby because of this added convenience. Charging in the meeting rooms will also be free from the search for outlets.
Sounds great, but who will fund this deployment? We predict that long-range wireless charging will follow the same adoption path as traditional Wi-Fi. At first, guests might pay for long range wireless charging as an added service of their hotel stay. Or some hotels might offer this as an exclusive perk to their “gold” customers. Hotels could also provide this service for guests who install the hotel’s app. Advertising-supported charging stations could also be an option. They would present targeted ads to guests who want to charge devices. These ads would replace the need to pay for the service up front.
Forward-thinking hotels will see the benefits of offering wireless charging to their guests. At first, wireless power will serve as a differentiator between competing hotels. Over time, it will become a ‘must have’. But the application of long-range wireless charging does not stop at mobile devices. That same technology can power electronic door locks and digital signs. It can make installation and maintenance easier. By eliminating endless battery replacement, it would also help the environment.
Though it may seem like magic, the mainstream adoption of this technology is right around the corner. Hoteliers can look forward to the future of a wireless charging world and the convenience and anxiety-free guests that come along with it.