When Morten Revill checks on his children at night, he often finds them asleep with their ever-present Smartphones and iPads still charging next to them. Like any good parent, he wanted to be sure that there were no health and safety risks associated with this, so he conducted some research into the potential dangers of leaving electronic devices plugged in overnight.
His findings alerted him to the risk of mobile phones and laptops overheating, and in some cases even catching fire, when left plugged in overnight. Dismayed at the lack of solutions on the market, Revill decided to devise his own.
“Most hardware manufacturers focus on performance over safety” explains Revill. “I was lucky enough to come across some statistics that indicated that there might be a niche in the market for a solution that can effectively prevent devices from overcharging or overheating.”
With the help of a team of engineers working in the Kongsberg region of Norway, Revill set about developing an intelligent multiplug that could read the devices that were plugged into it and supply the right amount of power at the right time – preventing overcharging or overheating from occurring. The result was Chargebrain, the first product release planned for Revill’s recently renamed Avenira Technologies.
Chargebrain can be plugged directly into any socket, where it will monitor any electronic device plugged into it and cut the power if a phone or tablet shows signs of overheating or deviating. It also comes with a complimentary app allowing users to remotely check how charged and healthy their electronic appliances are.
“In the beginning we had to look at what a multiplug is today – which is very basic of course. We started from a solution point of view and worked backwards, scanning the market for off-the shelf materials that we could utilise” Revill explains.
“We were working to a tightly limited budget, so we needed to create an intelligent socket that could function as a proof of concept without incorporating anything too advanced that would require significant external capital. Fortunately our engineers really believed in what we were doing and were willing to work for equity, allowing us to avoid the funding issue during the first 3-6 months.”
The circuit design was based on existing components from companies such as Texas Instruments. Sourcing these materials led to Revill and Avenira coming into contact with Farnell element14. In June 2017 Farnell awarded Avenira with our newly established ‘Startup Prize’ – an initiative to inspire and support upcoming tech companies.
“Being recognised by a company like Farnell element14 gives us immediate credibility” explains Revill. “When we go in to speak to potential investment groups or distributor networks, more people are willing to listen to what we have to say.”
A business innovator with over twenty years experience in various companies, Revill has seen first hand how the Norwegian startup scene has gone from strength to strength in recent years. The Kongsberg region is well known for companies such as Kongsberg Automotive and Kongsberg Defence, supplying high tech solutions worldwide and attracting talented engineers from all over the Nordic region and beyond.
The downturn of the oil industry has also resulted in many engineers being laid off, forcing them to explore new career paths. Norwegian citizens can receive payment for up to 3-6 months after being made redundant, so these engineers have an opportunity to take time to consider their next move rather than jumping into another role by necessity. Numerous technological startups have consequently emerged, transforming Norway into one of Europe’s leading startup hubs.
For Avenira, the next step is to take Chargebrain to market, with the app due for launch in August ahead of a release of the product itself in late 2017 or early 2018. A second product is also in development for summer 2018 release.
“It’s really important to believe in what you do and believe in your idea” says Revill. “But it’s even more important to be flexible when it comes to evolving that idea. I’ve involved a lot of people in the Chargebrain project, from the engineers and designers to companies like Farnell element14. I think that combination of being very adamant but also open to new ideas and solutions is one of the main keys to our success to date.”