In September 2017, Apple announced the release of AirPower, a charging device which would allow users to charge iPhones, AppleWatches and AirPods simultaneously and wirelessly. This product was officially killed in 2019 after not meeting the technology standard of Apple.
Four years later, a 7-minute-video of a Tech-Blogger „He Tongxue“ (Attention: A pseudonym, HE — Family name, pronounce „Her“; Tongxue — Classmate or fellow student in Mandarin) on how he self-made a desk-size AirPower-like height adjustable table in two months’ time completely on his own. This video became viral and earned 12+ million views and 2+ million likes on the video sharing platform Bilibili.
This blog post is going to review the story and I am going to share my thoughts on young techies and innovation nowadays in China.
A vision of Apple turned bubble
The video in which the AirPower was announced in September 2017 is still available on e.g. Youtube. In conjunction of the announcement of the iPhone8, iPhoneX and wireless charging case for AirPods, the AirPower was supposed to be released in early 2018. After waiting for more than 18 months with great expectation, Apple Fans received the official announcement about the cancel of the AirPower-project for not meeting the high standard of Apple.
He Tongxue, currently 22-year-old Tech-Blogger from China, was among those disappointed fans.
A Techie envisioned to DIY his own AirPower
He Tongxue envisioned an AirPower of his own, which would:
- Have the size of a table (round about 2m x 1m)
- Enable wireless charge in any position on the surface
- Offer better experience than the concept of Apple
A smart solution, which saves materials and offers more fun
Wireless charging with a coil is yesterday’s technology with no secret. The point of charging is limited to the very position — may it be on a mat of a palm’s size or on a large working table — where the coil is located. This means, if someone wants to have wireless charging device in a table’s size, he has to spread coils underneath the surface of a table to cover any random position (theoretically 600+ coils for a 2m x 1m table). This would be a huge waste of materials and extremely environmentally unfriendly.
He Tongxue got inspired by another wireless charging solution, which was already available on the market. Only ONE coil would be needed. With the help of a camera above the table (from the helicopter view), the charging position would be detected and calculated. A motorised device will carry the coil exactly to the position where the wireless charging should take place.
In his prototype, the table can only charge one device in a random position on the table. As backup, He Tongxue added two more coils underneath the surface as fixed charging points for other wireless devices.
More fun, more ergonomic fit
Two more features are worth mentioning:
- To make this table more funny, the surface of the table is actually an ultra large displayer, connected with a Mac-mini, which can — among others — display animations or show the to-do list of the day, depends on how you program this displayer.
- It is a height adjustable desk, which is technically not a big deal at all. This is designed for those who sit long hours before their computers. The table will detect the time without movement and remind the user to stand up to do some stretching from now and then.
He Tongxue named this Table „AirPower — ProMaxUltraPlusLift“, probably just for fun.
Some people commented that He Tongxue is the next Steve Jobs in China. I would like to agree but I can’t. He is a young netizen, a techie among a lot others, who has brilliant ideas and the ability to turn these ideas into practice. In my personal opinion he is more a Steve Wozniak (Apple’s co-founder the true enabler of Mac) than Steve Jobs.
This „AirPower — ProMaxUltraPlusLift“ did not invent anything new (like most of the Apple products in the last decade 😂), it is an integration of popular wireless charging technology and displayers technology in one height adjustable table. Strictly speaking, it is currently not an innovation at all because it is only a prototype which can not be mass produced to meet to market requirements.
Loctek, a listed company based in Ningbo (215km from Shanghai), a manufacturer of ergonomic products such as height adjustable desks, sponsored the making of this viral video. It is a brilliant example of collaboration between Chinese tech-companies and tech-bloggers, a successful promotion of both.
Finally, I watched this video with great excitment, not because the innovativeness behind the product but the boldness of young netizens implementing ideas of their own and showing up themselves confidently to a world, where Chinese are often viewed as copycat masters.
Founded in 2009, also known as the „B Site“, Bilibili was originally a niche community for Gen-Z netizens in China to share comics. It has now grown to a multimedia platform, themed around animations, comics and games. Users can submit, view and add overlaid commentary on videos. Bilibili is one of the top five social media platforms among Weibo, TikTok, Kuaishou and Xiaohongshu with 31+ million registered users.
A tech blogger and B-site Uploader („Up主“), a rising tech star among Gen-Z netizens in China. He made his name in China for his introduction video about 5G technology and his talk with Lei Jun, the CEO of Xiaomi. Early 2021 he was invited to interview Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple. He is definitely a worth following Tech-Blogger or Tech Influencer in China.
An expert in innovation management based in Upper Franconia in Germany. He loves technology, visuals and storytelling. He offers reliable and insightful desktop research about innovation in China (which could you save money before you make any expensive decisions). You can find him on LinkedIn or www.samyiheng.com.
All the pictures and animated GIFs come from the original video on Bilibili. All rights belong to the author of the video and the platform.