How Chargifi is Using AWS IoT to Deploy Enterprise Wireless Charging Hardware at Scale
Guest post by Tom Gregorio, Head of Product at Chargifi
Founded in 2013, Chargifi is a 21st-century solution to power delivery. We have developed and patented the market-leading cloud management platform that enables the mass deployment and monetisation of wireless charging; transforming wireless charging into a service that adds real value for businesses.
Chargifi delivers power to guests in public venues through our smart wireless charging service. By connecting each wireless charging spot to the cloud, we can help venues understand where, when and how their guests charge, and derive a return on investment from that activity. For larger enterprise clients in the hospitality, corporate, food & beverage, entertainment, and travel spaces, deploying electronic hardware infrastructure at scale without analytics and a service layer simply isn’t an option.
Starting With AWS
In 2014, we were connected to AWS through a Techstars program for connected IoT devices in New York City. Our whole development team had prior experience with AWS, so the choice to use them to quickly get our wireless charging management platform up and running was easy. AWS’ rich ecosystem of tools and services saves us valuable time and allows us to quickly prototype new workflows with zero upfront hardware cost. We rely on AWS for a number of important services.
Chargifi’s smart wireless charging solution allows distributors to deploy their own wireless charging networks at scale. Doing so consists of three major functions: Deploy, Monitor, and Analyse. To perform these functions requires us to maintain real-time communication with every charging spot in the field.
Initially, this communication happened over HTTPS, which was functional but problematic. HTTP is a fairly data-heavy protocol and our bandwidth costs would have ballooned as we began to scale. Therefore when AWS announced AWS IoT we were keen to migrate to that service. AWS IoT uses the MQTT protocol which is extremely lightweight, allowing for faster communication with our charging spots while using less bandwidth.
Part of our solution provides venues with monitoring tools for checking the health of their wireless charging network, but our monetization platform requires instant communication between our servers and the transmitters, making us much more data-intensive than traditional IoT-monitoring applications. Therefore, moving to AWS IoT and MQTT was equally important in this regard.
Scaling with AWS
From the beginning, we have worked to ensure our solution is deployable around the world. However, ingesting data from thousands of units on 4 continents (and counting!) has its challenges, and we have relied on AWS since day one to make everything run smoothly.
We are moving into large markets like China with complex data policies, and need to rely upon an architecture that can scale exponentially in different markets around the world. We appreciate how AWS has been able to provide the resources we need as our requirements grow, including a newly-released suite of IoT tools for China.
AWS IoT also provides valuable tools for managing the flow of real-time device messaging. We use AWS Firehose to keep a log of all the messages on S3 so we can easily debug message flows if an issue occurs. We also execute AWS Lambda functions which run the data through various logical and analytical checks. AWS built these services with scale in mind, so there isn’t a bottleneck at any point in the ingestion of data on our system.
We are just scratching the surface with Amazon’s available tools for capturing, processing, and securing all of the data our growing network of wireless charging spots generates. Our new AWS-IoT-based architecture is in the prototype stage while we test our next generation hardware which will leverage these tools. We are excited that this new architecture will allow us to scale to meet the growing demand as wireless charging quickly becomes more widely adopted. On that note, the first of the Amazon offices was set up with Chargifi wireless earlier this summer in London!