The idea is that you can find people in your BattBump social network — and who doesn’t want yet another social network? — and get some phone charge off them.
“The transfer of the battery between smart phones occurs via Near-Field Communication (NFC). This technology is currently available and the app utilises this technology.”
There’s also tokens on a blockchain, for some reason.
How we do phone-to-phone charging now
You can charge a phone from a phone already — with a USB On-The-Go cable. These do data and power. The typical use case is topping up your phone from your tablet.
The main hassle is the connectors — USB Micro-B, versus USB-C, versus Lightning.
The BattBump Kickstarter
The Kickstarter says: “This technology is currently available and the app utilises this technology.” That’s it for technical detail.
The Kickstarter rewards are an “I’m a top bumper” T-shirt, a BattBump logo zip-up hoody, a BattBump beanie and a sticker pack — not the future app itself, nor even their planned blockchain “BB” tokens.
The initial video clip of a woman looking up from her phone is stock footage — I haven’t sourced the rest of their video, but the shakycam user-interface mockups suggest this was all put together quite quickly.
How could this possibly work?
NFC is low-powered and optimised for data — and it has no way to put power back into the battery.
But wireless phone charging exists and works — it’s called Qi, and it’s standard in all recent phones. Instead of plugging your phone in, you put it on a charging pad.
Qi also uses paired induction loops to form a transformer. This transmits power reasonably efficiently — if slower than a cable. It’s the same principle as NFC — so casually calling Qi “NFC” isn’t completely wrong.
The problem is that a phone’s only a Qi receiver — it only has the loop, then an AC-to-DC rectifier, then the battery. To use Qi phone-to-phone, you’d need new hardware — to pump AC power into the loop.
The other problem is that apps don’t have access to the lower layers of the NFC or Qi software stacks.
(And the third problem is that Sony already patented something very like this in 2017.)
And even if this worked … it’d be slow. You’d have to hold your phones flat against each other for half an hour. You know how long a charge takes on a cable? Qi is slower.
BattBump utilises Blockchain technology so every time you bump battery you’ll earn BB tokens. These tokens will accumulate in your crypto wallet, which you can use to pay for everyday purchases. You’ll also be able to trade BB Tokens with other users.
There are no further details, except a user interface that shows a “Cash-In” button. Not even an ICO white paper.
The named contact is Cat Clark. I called Cat last night to ask about the project. She said there’s been quite a lot of media interest. I sent a followup email asking how this actually works with 2018 phone hardware, and I’ll update with any response.
How can Kickstarter allow this sort of thing?
There’s been no press coverage as yet. What there has been is people who think this must be a scam — or a media stunt — and are appalled Kickstarter could allow such a thing.
I really hope this is some kind of troll to see how many people will back complete snake oil.
— MegaZone (@megazone) June 25, 2018
It’s either malice or stupidity and tbh as money is involved I’m suspecting the former. Probably worth reporting to kickstarter? (Part of really me wants to be proven wrong, but based on the flashy kickstarter page I can’t imagine this being a team of ingenious hardware hackers)
— Dani Ellis (@lapinesque) June 25, 2018
Remember that when you pledge to a Kickstarter, you’re not buying a product — you’re donating to a vision, hoping to make it happen. Even competent teams who know their stuff can mess up. And there’s no shortage of ambitious Kickstarters who are completely out of their depth.
You can’t even trust how confident a project itself is. BattBump says:
Risks and challenges
We predict app development will go smoothly.
With new and flagship models we’ll need to test the NFC charging.
This is the only possible issue they can see — and not such minor issues as their proposal being literally impossible on 2018 phone hardware.
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