In many parts of the world, it doesn't take more than a quick glance at people on a subway or even walking down city streets to see how dependent we have become on our smartphones. And while public phone charging stations – from solar-powered benches to sidewalk kiosks -- are becoming more common, they are still far from ubiquitous.
Enter Chilectra, the Chilean subsidiary of Council Lead Partner Enel. It has developed a device that allows users to recharge their smartphones using a wireless inductive system. But that's not all. The system also allows users to donate energy to others in their community.
How it works
According to an Enel release about the Chispers device, as it's called, members of a community use Los Chispers charging points to charge smartphones and share energy with the community through a wireless charging system based on Qi, a standard interface developed by the Wireless Power Consortium.
To charge or donate electricity, mobile phones must either be supported by a wireless platform or attached via a USB cable if the phone doesn't support the system.
"We live in a mobile world, but the electric power infrastructure system is still quite static, so to stay connected we are forced to rely on batteries," says Andreas Gebhardt, General Manager of Chilectra. "With Chispers we are trying to revolutionize the way we interact with energy wirelessly by preparing to digitalize the power grids. The way we consume electricity is changing ever more rapidly and this offers significant growth opportunities for the entire industry."
Active in five towns today
Launched in 2012, the Chispers project went through a period of research and trials. Today it is active in five towns in the Metropolitan Region of Santiago de Chile and has gathered a community of about 1,000 users.
To use the service, customers download an iOS or Android app available on the Chispers website, where they can also view a map of the charging point network. Once the app is installed on someone's smartphone, they automatically become part of the power sharing community.