BattBump update — the project backs down on its claims, then cancels and vanishes

BattBump — the app to wirelessly charge a phone from another phone — and which I managed not to call ButtBump or BattButt — has just cancelled their project, after having had probably not the best of days.

They got eight backers, pledging AUD$330 — but the Kickstarter page now says, as of 14:17 UTC on 27 June:

Funding Canceled
Funding for this project was canceled by the project creator about 6 hours ago.

The creator, Cat Clark, has deleted her Kickstarter profile. And the site (archive) is now giving a 404 (archive).

The initial reaction

The near-universal reaction to BattBump was incredulity at this clearly physics-defying project.

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.

Torsten also contacted Kickstarter’s integrity team about the campaign.

Dave Jones, of gadget/hacker/maker video channel EEVblog, did a video absolutely ripping the Kickstarter to pieces — but someone’s filed a spurious privacy complaint against the video:

The campaign has now been cancelled, the owner has removed her photo from the KS campaign and tried to delete the KS profile, AND I have received a ‘Privacy Complaint’ again this video. The website is also gone. So this video might vanish in 48 hours when it gets automatically reviewed by Youtube. AFAIK there is no way I can respond to or dispute this complaint.

Dave says the creator’s name and city from 1:50 to 1:55 — but this is someone who’s just asked the general public for AUD$30,000, and that’s clearly news. He’s posted a followup video on the issue.

Dave’s taken the video private for the moment — and I’ve emailed Cat Clark asking if she knows who filed the complaint, and on what grounds.

So was this a real project?

I’m increasingly sure this was a sincere project — they just didn’t understand the technology.

Before being shut down, the project page “Risks and challenges” was updated from:

We predict app development will go smoothly.

With new and flagship models we’ll need to test the NFC charging.

to a much more realistic:

Challenges will be to wait for the technology to be developed that allows for the battery transfer between devices and how that will be integrated easily to work with new mobile devices and flagship models.

We predict the mobile app development of Battbump will go smoothly regarding the social network body of the app.

They also posted a Kickstarter update (archive):

BattBump are developing an app. The technology aspect regarding the transfer of battery would be purchased from a company/and or persons who already have developed the technology. We will not be developing this technology ourselves nor utilising any technology within the app without permission. The current funding will be used to have the shell of the app developed, ready for the technology to be integrated when and if it is available. The video and creative stills are to give a storyboard of how the app and technology would work together once it is available and once it is integrated alongside BattBump. This is our research and development phase and we thank and appreciate our backers patience and support.

A poster on the EEVblog forum says:

Someone just told me they contacted her using the web form as an “investor” and I have her response, it seems legit, she is pointing interested investors to go and back the campaign.

Cat Clark emailed a response to my initial query of Monday evening, around 04:00 UTC today:

We are looking to organize a partnership with a collaborator who will help us utilize the technology for wireless charging in the app when it it ready. We will not be developing the technology ourselves. We have researched similar patents like Sony’s and feel this kind of partnership or collaborator would be the way forward. This project is to fund the mobile application of BattBump, the next stage within the product roadmap will be further research and development of the technology to perform the battery charge transfer. Also, Genson Glier is a Blockchain technology advisor to BattBump. We are always open to new partnerships and further support for our project.

But evidently they’re thinking more deeply about this one before proceeding.

Was it really impossible?

If you’re using Qi inductive charging, the receiver is small enough to just be a loop inside the phone.

But here’s the insides of a Qi charger, in this case a Nokia DT-900:


Photo by Olli Niemitalo, CC-0


Some are trying to put this into a phone-sized case. Avido is doing an IndieGoGo for a phone-sized battery pack, the WiBa 2-in-1 — wirelessly charge it from a Qi pad, then wirelessly charge a phone in turn.

But that too is a crowdfunded prospective gadget, and not anything that exists yet. Also, it’s pretty pricey at $89 for a 5 amp-hour battery pack — for comparison, a 20 amp-hour battery pack is typically around $40.

Crowdfunding tends more reality-based than your typical ICO. But — as always — pledge carefully.

Update: Torsten Kleinz has now written up the story for Heise Online: Smartphone-Akkus per NFC laden: Aus für skurrile BattBump-Kampagne.


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12 Comments on “BattBump update — the project backs down on its claims, then cancels and vanishes”

  1. For what it’s worth, only two of the campaign backers appear to have been more than token $1 pledges. I was one of those $1 backers just so that I could leave a comment.
    And it is quite likely that those two “real” pledges were from friends of the creator considering the fact that they were just expensive branded clothing items. They also got most of those pledges on the first day, and there seems to have been little to no marketing for the campaign.
    I’d guess that the extra $74 ($330 total – $250 visible pledges – $6 in $1 pledges) was shipping. That seems a bit high for shipping, but who knows… it was in Aussie dollaroos after all 😀

  2. There are $14 Qi chargers on Amazon that are of comparable width and thickness to modern phones. It is physically possible, it just makes absolutely no sense on a device primarily constrained by size and battery considerations to begin with.

    1. Yes, it would be possible to put a readily available Qi charger inside a phone.

      As long as you removed the phone electronics.

      Which kind of defeats the object of the exercise.

      1. oh I dunno, we could make it twice as thick. Three times, to put a robust shell on it. The return of the Nokia Brick!

  3. They could have added branded USB cross charging cables to their offering, then the app just needs to check the battery level and social network (using Apple/Google messaging to wake up the app if there’s a request from a friend). The cables would ship physically to those who order via the app and pay).

    The standard cables would be a 3 foot USB micro A to micro B cable with a big arrow and molded adapters for USB C, USB mini OTG B and lightning. All of those are available unbranded already. App users would be expected to carry their own molded adapter for their phone, but only one of the two people need to remember their cable. The Apple tax on lightning adapters (if any) could make that adapter a separate item.

    1. Sounds good -just needs an incorruptible Blockchain token database, an essential part of the proposal.

  4. Ironically it’s entirely possible to cross-charge between devices with a physical cable. Not that it makes a whole lot of sense, but hey, if they had gone that way they might not have been flayed alive by the cold light of reality.

  5. Great article, but I think you got your battery spec numbers totally wrong. I use a 10 amp hour battery for my e-bike and it can go 20 miles. You mentioned you can get twice that for just $40? Lol – no WAY! 😛

    1. Your ebike probably runs at more than a few volts! Voltage times amperage gives you wattage; a 20 amp hour battery at around 4 volts has 80 watt-hours of energy in it, whilst a 10 amp hour battery at 36 volts has 360 watt hours of energy in it.

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