Company on Shark Tank shows off product that Apple couldn't build

Company on Shark Tank shows off product that Apple couldn't build
If you're a fan of ABC's Shark Tank, the television show that sends entrepreneurs into a room full of multi-millionaires to fund their business ventures, you might have seen a company called Aira make a pitch yesterday. The firm licenses what it calls a wireless charging surface that allows devices to charge in any orientation. The problem with most wireless charging pads is that the device being placed on the pad must align perfectly with the coils inside the mat. Aira uses a technology it calls "FreePower."

Using a different type of wireless power coil matrix, patented circuitry and proprietary algorithms track the location of a device on the surface and then activate "sweet spots" that charge the phone/tablet/wearable/earpods case. The wireless surface is compatible with Qi standards and will charge multiple devices simultaneously. As mentioned on the company's website, "an iPhone might need more power to charge efficiently, while the AirPods next to it might require a lot less. If the device is Qi-enabled to receive wireless power, it'll charge." The first Aira licensed wireless charging product will be the Nomad Base Station Pro, expected to launch later this year.

Aira gets three Sharks to bite


During the company's pitch in the tank, the most tech-focused of the Sharks, Mark Cuban, decided not to make an investment in Aira. Cuban cited a pair of companies working on over-the-air charging such as uBeam and Energous. We wrote about the former back in 2014, and two years ago Energous received FCC approval for technology that transmits signals to a phone that is up to three feet away. Eventually, a smartphone owner will be able to walk into a room and walk out with a fully charged handset. Disney also is working on similar technology which we could see becoming a big hit at its theme parks. Imagine walking into the Haunted Mansion with your phone's battery percentage down to 15% and walking out of the ride with your phone's battery at 100%. Cuban said that he was afraid that Aira's technology could be leapfrogged by OTA wireless charging.

Aira was founded by Eric Goodchild and Jake Slatnick, both of whom appeared on Shark Tank. It's interesting to see that the company was able to accomplish something that Apple was unable to. You might remember that Apple's Air Power charging pad was introduced by Apple on September 12th, 2017; that was the same event that unveiled the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and the iPhone X. The pad was designed to allow for the simultaneous charging of a couple of handsets, or an iPhone, an Apple Watch and the AirPods wireless charging case. By June 2018, AirPower became Apple's longest-running vaporware, but production of the accessory supposedly started this past January. A diagram of AirPower showed up on the retail box for the second-generation AirPods in March. But Apple surprised everyone by canceling the product later that month. At the time, Apple senior vice president of Hardware Engineering Dan Riccio said that AirPower could not live up to Apple's high standards.

So, did Aira get any of the Sharks to bite? After three sharks expressed interest in the company, the trio (Kevin O'Leary, Lori Greiner, and Robert Herjavec) decided to team up. The three agreed to give Aira $500,000 for 15% of the company. With this funding and the experience of the Sharks, we'd expect to see a number of Aira licensed products (besides the Noma Base Station Pro) hit the market next year.

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22 Comments

1. JCASS889

Posts: 599; Member since: May 18, 2018

I'm sure Apple could have made it, but probably couldn't get enough profit margin on it so they scrapped the idea.

16. Vogue1985

Posts: 490; Member since: Jan 24, 2017

Apple isn't about innovation anymore. So no they wouldn't make it even if they woykf make a profit selling them 500 a piece.

20. CreeDiddy

Posts: 2272; Member since: Nov 04, 2011

Apple doesn't have to innovate, as iOS provides developers to create their own innovation. Apple created their own product category and platform. Android has become the same, but wrapped and sold by different manufacturers.

17. tedkord

Posts: 17456; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

No, it was well documented that they tried, but cohosh come up with a solution that worked and didn't overheat. It was a little embarrassing because they announced it as a product over a year before they admitted it wasn't working and canceled it.

2. mackan84

Posts: 617; Member since: Feb 13, 2014

So did they demonstrate it or did they do a Apple? Another pipe dream?

3. Vokilam

Posts: 1347; Member since: Mar 15, 2018

Will it cost under $200?

4. Derekjeter

Posts: 1552; Member since: Oct 27, 2011

Even if the OTA is a better idea it still years from being ready for retail and I seriously doubt you will be able to get 50% charge in the 7 minutes it takes to ride the haunted mansion.

5. apple-rulz

Posts: 2198; Member since: Dec 27, 2016

If Apple nor any other big name tech company can make that type of charging pad happen, I seriously doubt a kickstarter company will be able to.

6. Alcyone

Posts: 542; Member since: May 10, 2018

Its not how many people are employed by the company. It is a matter of how intelligent are the people on the development team. Like Apple starting out in a garage. Why didn't the much larger IBM (at the time) develop the Mac? IBM had more people. You'd be surprised how many micro companies have started with big developments. Or you wouldn't, this is would just be proof Apple gave up. Revenue and profits are more important to them. Moreso, than what consumers really need and want.

9. apple-rulz

Posts: 2198; Member since: Dec 27, 2016

@alcyone I ordinarily disagree with what you write, but this time you brought up some valid points I failed to consider.

23. DolmioMan

Posts: 345; Member since: Jan 08, 2018

Except this just uses Qi coils, anyone can make that. Apple watches do not charge with Qi which is why AirPower was so difficult to make.

7. Plutonium239

Posts: 1239; Member since: Mar 17, 2015

Apple doesn't innovate and make new products. They buy other companies and sell theirs. Or they outwright copy ideas from others.

8. apple-rulz

Posts: 2198; Member since: Dec 27, 2016

Samsung does the same, so what’s your point?

12. toukale

Posts: 668; Member since: Jun 10, 2015

It's not just them, every company does so, Google, Apple, Samsung, Facebook, etc... but for some reasons people only seem to lose it when Apple is involved, it's weird.

19. tedkord

Posts: 17456; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

His point was Apple doesn't innovate. So you quickly jumped into your deflector costume.

10. Atrixboyyy

Posts: 617; Member since: Nov 03, 2011

You do know alot of what has come to be face id came from a startup... Right?

11. apple-rulz

Posts: 2198; Member since: Dec 27, 2016

You do know that Samsung Pay came from a startup... Right?

13. toukale

Posts: 668; Member since: Jun 10, 2015

Same as Facebook buying "what's up" and Instagram. Google with "Android," and "Gmail" etc... Name me a company and you can name a list of companies they bought.

14. darkkjedii

Posts: 31531; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Damn Apple, y’all got sharked. Personally, I’d love to see Apple get the AirPower up and running, but I think it’s a dinosaur now.

18. Vogue1985

Posts: 490; Member since: Jan 24, 2017

I want one

21. L0n3n1nja

Posts: 1582; Member since: Jul 12, 2016

Apple sucks at R&D and innovation, they wait for others to develop then they buy. Then blind sheep brag about Apples latest creation like they actually invented it.

22. slashas

Posts: 146; Member since: Jul 17, 2017

When you can why not? It is financially more better strategy, let other innovate and buy them after, Tim Apple always was about such :)

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