BattBump — wireless phone-to-phone charging, on the blockchain

BattBump — wireless phone-to-phone charging, on the blockchain

 

BattBump is a Kickstarter (archive) to launch “the world’s first battery sharing app to share charge wirelessly. No charger. No worries.”

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 home page is BattBump.com (archive). There’s no details at all — about the technology, the people or the blockchain offering. It also says “© 2015 by BattBump.”

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?

The NFC that you use for touch-and-pay is an induction loop — the wire loop in the touch pad and the wire loop in your phone form the two halves of a transformer.

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.

Blockchain Technology

There are blockchain tokens involved, because of course there are:

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.

The blockchain guy appears to be Genson Glier of BlockToken.ai — and he’s one of the faces in the promotional video at 0:10.

There are no further details, except a user interface that shows a “Cash-In” button. Not even an ICO white paper.

People

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.

 

 

Kickstarter has policies against impossible projects, and requires a prototype for physical gadgets. Software is trickier, obviously.

After social media got stuck into Kickstarter for the laundry ball scam (this scam explained) and then an antigravity crank, they even hired an “integrity specialist” to try to keep things sane.

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.

Pledge carefully.


Update: BattBump backs down on its claims, then cancels and vanishes.

 

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8 thoughts on “BattBump — wireless phone-to-phone charging, on the blockchain”

  • Torsten Kleinz, a journalist at c’t and Die Zeit, wrote to BattBump, and got a response!

    > I am a journalist from Germany and stumbled across your Kickstarter campaign. This campaign has an apparent flaw: There is no way to transfer energy between mobile phones per NFC. Even if a smartphone could harvest the NFC energy – and none in the market can — you had to hold the two phones against each other for hours to get even one percent more battery life. So – what is this campaign really about?

    their answer:

    > Thanks for showing interest in our campaign. We are developing the software for all current flagship devices to transfer energy between devices. It isn’t a question of whether a device can “harvest the NFC energy” NFC is the conduit and not the storage capability. Our software speeds up the process, and the time required is relative to how much of your battery charge you are willing to give away. Thanks for your question and we hope to have your continued support. Team BattBump

    “this literally can’t work”
    “yeah nah it can brah, software see”
    ok

  • “These tokens will accumulate in your crypto wallet, which you can use to pay for everyday purchases.”

    I think this is the big breaktrough here. If true, it could revolutionize crypto by introducing a never-before-seen feature!

  • Kickstarter have a vested interest in doing as little as possible to weed out the scams and frauds. If a project gets funded, they get a cut. Doesn’t matter if the project is actually plausible (never mind feasible, never mind actually POSSIBLE) or not.

    They’re very big on implying that you’ll get a product at the end of a Kickstarter campaign (in fairness, that’s more the campaign than Kickstarter itself), whilst doing their level best to weasel out of any actual obligation to make sure that it happens. There’s no accountability once a project has funded. No way for backers to hold the creator’s feet to the fire, short of going to legal channels (with all the costs that entails.)

    Frankly, anybody funding anything on Kickstarter (or Indiegogo, or similar) with the expectation of anything better than losing all their money and getting nothing in return, is a fool. Projects like this one only serve to underscore that point.

      • Well, yes, but that’s more papering over the gaping chasms in the plaster (calling them “cracks” is being far too diplomatic) than anything else. Granted that I soured on Kickstarter when I nearly fell foul of a project that’s increasingly looking like a fraud (fortunately, my credit company approved a chargeback on it, so I’m not out of pocket), but the measure of a site like that is what happens when something goes wrong.

        On that score, they fail. Miserably.

  • I’m still inclined to think it is (or was – seems to have just been cancelled) a half-arsed attempt at ‘satire’. But, honestly, who can tell for sure?

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