Garry Ramler – Wire-Free Charging at Restaurants

08 November 2018

Garry Ramler, President of Kube Systems, discussed what customers want in terms of phone charging at public venues and discusses new approaches to satisfy these requirements.

This episode was recorded in November 2018

Yuval Boger (CMO, Wi-Charge, @TheChargeGuy): Hello, Garry and thanks for joining me today.

Garry Ramler (President, Kube Systems): Thank you. Thanks for having me.

Yuval: So, who are you and what do you do?

Garry: Garry Ramler, actually. We’re the innovator in the hospitality space for many solutions for hotels and restaurants around the world. We’ve developed charging solutions for hotels. We’ve developed furniture that has charging solutions. We’ve driven by the need of people wanting to charge their cell phones funds and keep themselves fully connected, which is a very compelling design. We have something called battery anxiety as a diagnosable problem that people feel disconnected if they can’t keep their cell phones fully charged and we’ve had years of experience developing solutions to that end.

Yuval: So, if I check into a hotel. I go to my room. I can just pull out a USB cable and charge my phone. So, why do I need a solution like yours?

Garry: Well, see the difference in … Many people either forget their cables at home or if they have their cables they find out they haven’t got a plug by the side of their bed. They have to go hunting and rummage under the bedside table trying to find somewhere to plug their cables. So there’s a whole lot of problems associated with keeping their cell phones charged in the hotel room. Most people don’t even trust the bedside clocks, they find in the hotel room. They want to use their own clock or their own phone for waking up in the morning. So, it’s a compelling reason for them to absolutely stay fully charged and we develop a whole of solutions with all different technologies, be it Android or Apple to keep them maximized in terms of their power and their power solutions.

Yuval: Do you think their charging problem is primarily in the room or in the public space, lobby, bar, restaurant, waiting areas?

Garry: Actually, in the hotel space, it’s probably more outside the room because the room is becoming now chock-a-block full of alternatives but when you’re, let’s say, at the bar and you’re having a drink and you’re watching the sports on the TV that’s when people really use their phone and use it to their fullest extent. As they want to share the experience or catch up with family and friends or check on their work emails and that’s the problem we’re addressing together with Wi-Charge on how do you keep that phone fully charged in a casual role or shall I say, a leisure environment when you don’t have access to power from USBs.

Yuval: What does the solution look like? What are the components that are going on there?

Garry: What we’ve developed is a system of charging your phones throughout a venue, whereby anywhere in the venue you could have your phone and you’ll have mobile charging banks. Where they’ll always offer delivery at a charge to you and to your phone. But you can maintain 100% battery level. Of course, the challenge there is to have that freedom of movement because you might be at a restaurant where you’ve got different tables sitting around. You want to reconfigure the table or sit in a group. So, often people now want the communal dining experience, where you can sit together with a group of friends. You can’t always deliver power to people like that. So, here we’ve got a solution through using Wi-Charge and our technology, where you could have true portability of being able to deliver power to various customers and their needs.

Yuval: I think that some people are familiar with magnetic induction, with Qi chargers. They may have gone into a coffee shop that has a Qi charger embedded into the table. How is the Kube Systems’ solution different?

Garry: Well, we recognize that although Qi Charging us very prevalent now. Wireless charging’s certainly the way it’s moving. There’s still over 73% of phones currently have the old system of lightening connectors or micro USBs or USB-C. So, we’re offering all different ways to deliver charge to the actual customer. But where do you get the charge from in the first place, is the secret and that’s why I think the Wi-Charge comes in so compelling. Is we can get that power to our hubs, to our charging stations, through an infrared beam that can be relocated and removed anywhere in the venue.

Garry: So, we can offer virtually a fully transportable opportunity of offering power to our customers and associated with that we’re also delivering the opportunity for the venue themselves to have an advertising platform. What makes it compelling for the venues to have it, is not only the convenience for their guests but also they can promote through a small little video screen associated with our technology. They can promote things like their happy hour between 5 and 7. They promote local events. They can promote a schedule or a calendar or they can themselves do their own messages in terms of what they want to promote to their customers throughout the advertising screens.

Yuval: For the end-user, for the customer that just wants to charge their phone while watching a football game in the bar, do they have to download an app? Do they do anything special to use the charging solutions?

Garry: It’s a really good point. We found that there’s a lot of resistance from people to actually apps to charge. Downloading an airport … some sort of an ad. You really don’t want to do that. You want to get started on your wi-fi. Just like us. We want to get straight to the power. So, therefore we’re not actually forcing the user to download anything. They just plug it straight in and it powers straight up. Then opposite them is a screen where they can engage if they wish, in terms of advertising or anything else that they see on the screen. It might be a movie. It might be a schedule for a bar. It could be anything.

Yuval: So, the advertising is actually what pays for this, right or does the venue have to-

Garry: No, it’s free for the venue and that’s the secret. That’s what makes it such a success. Is that the venue doesn’t have to pay anything for it. The advertising medium, is the revenue channel and of course, the end-user is the guest, he’s the one with the greater satisfaction because he keeps his phone fully charged.

Yuval: Where do you see the biggest need? Is it in stadiums, is that in hotels or coffee shops, at airports?

Garry: You’ve hit them all. I mean, airports are where people linger. You’ve got people stuck for hours at airports. Their batteries are running low. You see how they cluster around the charging pods. So, offering true portability at airports. Stadiums, in the private boxes, where you can actually watch your phone, share the experience and also see on the screen, various media. Coffee shops, of course. Anywhere people linger. Hairdressing salons is another that we’re looking at. People say anywhere longer than a few minutes they’ll wanna be charging their cell phones. So, there’s a lot of different ways we can actually see this application being used.

Yuval: So, if I sip my coffee for 30 minutes and use your solution, how much battery boost will my phone get? Is it slow? Is it fast? Is it like cable charging?

Garry: We utilize quick charge technology that should be able to go if your phone is, let’s say 20% down. It’ll get to about 80%, in about 20 minutes. So, it’s a quick charge technology … it is very compelling. The last 20%, to get from 80 to 100, often takes longer with battery technology currently on phones but to get that major boost in the first 20, 30 minutes.

Yuval: So to get from critical battery anxiety to low-grade anxiety, all I need is to buy a coffee for 20 minutes.

Garry: Exactly right. The beauty for the coffee shop is they can do a promotion saying, “Second coffee, 20% less.” So, for the coffee shop, they win because you’ll stay there a bit longer consuming more of their coffee. So, it’s a win, win for everybody.

Yuval: I got it. And you no longer have to sit next to an outlet or remember to bring a cable.

Garry: It’s about free mobility and gives people the flexibility of moving in and moving out or being where they want to be and where they want to charge.

Yuval: I heard about some restaurants, they were saying, “Well, this is nice but we don’t actually need the wireless power delivery? We’re just going to keep a whole bunch of these behind the counter. You walk into the coffee shop and we’ll give you one and then you return it when you’re done and then you’ll charge it … and the cable behind the bar

Garry: It’s an excellent idea. Yeah, the return bit’s the problem. There’s one very, very large … The largest coffee chain, who gave away a little charging puck to their guests and of course, hoping they would be returned. They had a little thing that they could return at the end of the email. They had an incredible attrition rate, and mind you, the funny thing was, people took them then had no use for them. You couldn’t use them outside the coffee shop but that doesn’t stop human nature. People like to collect things and therefore, our system it actually has a stability system, where it actually locks to the location. The venue can put in a location, so if you’ve got a group of tables, you can attach it to the table, then you can still move the tables around, but it will be attached to the table so it doesn’t disappear into the night.

Yuval: How precisely do I need to align my phone on the charger for it to start charging?

Garry: Well, Qi charging is quite a wide range. It what gets called, triple coils or single coils. We use a triple coil array, which allows you a fair degree of latitude in the x, y, direction to move it anywhere you like. It has to lay on the pad itself. It can’t be half an inch off but it lays anywhere on that pad, it’ll charge.

Yuval: Does it also work with watches or other things?

Garry: Interesting, interesting. Again, you need that flat surface to surface exposure. I think the third generation of the Apple Watch, Apple Watch 3, has got Qi charging. The first two generations had a different magnetic induction but yes, I think you can … well, lay the Apple Watch on there and it will automatically as well. As, of course, not just the Apple iPhones but virtually all your Samsung, Galaxy, Nokia phones will also have Qi Charging installed.

Yuval: I ask this of many guests. So, let’s assume Garry, that you are able to control the Wi-Charge engineering and development plan for the next 18 months. What would you want us to do to help your business?

Garry: Well, you see, I think the flexibility of having a safe way of delivering power is an incredible opportunity. Obviously the range and the depth and the feel is going to be one of the major hurdles because at the moment now, I think we’ve got about a 30-foot range to be able to deliver the power over and if you could truly saturate a room safely with energy. So you could pick up a charge like you could pick up a wi-fi signal. That will be truly the holy grail.

Yuval: I got it. Okay, so Garry how can people get in touch with you to learn more about your company and the work that you guys are doing?

Garry: The best way to get to me is to email me at garry@kubesystems.com

Yuval: Very good. Well, thanks for being a guest today.

Garry: Thanks very much for your time.

We will review your message and get in touch with you as soon as possible