An outburst by a coursemate frustrated by this familiar everyday nuisance stuck in Maija Itkonen's mind. But unlike millions of other mobile phone users she actually decided to do something about the problem.
A former design student at Aalto University in Helsinki, Maija formulated some basic questions and forged ahead to find answers to them.
"It feels only natural to put your mobile phone on the table. So why couldn't it also charge while it's lying there, without much fuss," she wondered. She then proceeded to apply the university's "don't say it, demonstrate it" approach to the issue – by demonstrating it.
The concept started life as a student's project and is very simple – as good ideas often are. PowerKiss consists of a transmitter which is integrated into a normal table and can wirelessly charge mobile phones placed on top of the table.
Over a third of customers visit cafés in order to use their mobile devices rather than getting a cup of coffee.
Maija's designer's perspective was obvious right from the start. She started by finding out where mobile phone users spend their time while on the move and where they most need to charge their appliances.
It still amuses her to see people desperately attempting to find power for their mobile phones in public areas by any means, even by using electrical sockets intended for cleaning equipment. She mentions a study which found that over a third of customers visit cafés in order to use their mobile devices rather than getting a cup of coffee.
Helsinki Airport offered its passengers wireless charging as early as two years before any other airport in the world. There are currently wireless charging points in 30 airport cafés and lounges in Western Europe. The PowerKiss solution is also used in hotels and railway stations, and companies such as Finnair, Lufthansa, Starbucks, McDonald's and Hilton Hotels are already PowerKiss customers.
Wireless mobile phone charging is also taking off in other ways. In China alone some 8,000 companies are developing solutions related to wireless charging.
Maija is not afraid of the competition.
"It is very easy to copy gizmos and gadgets, but nobody can imitate our in-depth design expertise and visionary 'next step' -thinking."
And how does Maija get her own PowerKiss?
"I am inspired by the opportunity to do something that has the potential to revolutionise our world. I firmly believe that people can change the world if they really want to achieve their goal and are willing to take the plunge," she enthuses.
Maija does not need to rely on her main job to get charged up as she is a highly-trained musician as well as an industrial designer and entrepreneur. She has played her oboe with the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra in musicals such as Miss Saigon, Mary Poppins, Beauty and the Beast and Evita.
Wireless charging – first in the world
At Helsinki Airport you can charge your mobile phone wirelessly. Just rent or buy a charge stick at the nearest café and charge your device at a PowerKiss Hotspot. You will recognise the Hotspot by a red ring.
Text: Sami Laakso
Photo: Janne Savon