Experience of the Future: McDonald's and Wireless Charging

Smithers Apex recently sat down with Rene Batsford, Digital Innovation Manager at McDonalds Corporation and asked him to share his insights on implementing wireless charging in restaurants along with the types of challenges and what he is most looking forward to at the Wireless Power summit.


Smithers Apex: Implementing Wireless Power into restaurants and hotels takes a lot of strategic thought. Can you explain why you picked the countries/restaurants that you did?

Batsford: Ok, so I cover the Digital Innovation for McDonald’s for the UK specifically.  We had already done some investigation and research into wireless charging – along with a test with a QI competitor and as the UK was primed to do a pilot we felt that the appetite for a UK pilot was right.  Since then we have carried out pilots in France, USA and Sweden, with more to come in Europe and Far East Asia.


Smithers Apex: What was one of the biggest challenges about implementing Wireless Power into your restaurants?

Batsford: So deployment in terms of services (electrics) as more often than not tables don’t have power wired in.  We are fortunate that we are rolling out a new restaurant re-imaging program called “Experience of the Future” in the UK so it allowed us to add the services in from the beginning.  That said most of our pilot sites were retro fits – so in terms of scale it makes sense if you are deploying surface charges for every seat position on a table and we would target sit up tables and breakfast bench style bars first and foremost as we can deploy more surface chargers per table.


Smithers Apex: What king of feedback are you getting from customers?

Batsford: Extremely positive, customers are very intrigued initially and extremely grateful of the service, they see it as a real value add and creates a point of difference over other brands.  Because we currently provide the surface charger and adaptor (if their mobile isn’t Qi enabled) it means customers don’t need to stress about not having a cable – and we provide the service completely free of charge.


Smithers Apex: What does the future look like for wireless power at McDonalds?

Batsford: So we will continue to scale and provide other opportunities for customer around wire-less charging some of these may take a data driven perspective by utilizing the in-built BLE beacon technology, some moreover in the form of new types of dongles that customers can own personally.


Smithers Apex: What are you most looking forward to hearing at the Wireless Power Summit 2015?

Batsford: I’m keen to understand the roadmap from the ever evolving standards, fast charging, resonance, more uptake by other verticals.

Having been involved in a previous launch of an industry wide standard namely contactless payment in the UK,  (I was the Head of IT for a brand for the first UK wide launch of contactless payment) I know how important awareness and education is for customers.  I would definitely like to see more in the way of support and interest from marketing the technology – I feel that McDonald’s has the potential to really put wireless charging on the map for the industry, the value of which is unquestionably huge > the question is other than technology providers like Air Charge who have done a lot in conjunction with McDonald’s > what are the other players in the eco-system going to do themselves to assist ?  We’ve seen some great marketing campaign’s in the UK from brands such as Samsung – we’re keen to see more