After a two-city trial that started last year, Starbucks is adding in-store wireless charging for customers’ phones throughout all of its nearly 13,000 U.S. locations. Announced on Thursday, the expansion is now starting with stores in major markets to have the wireless charging stations in place by 2015. Just as it did in the trial, Starbucks is partnering with Duracell Powermat for the technology.
According to the news release: “Stores will be equipped with ‘Powermat Spots’ — designated areas on tables and counters where customers can place their compatible device and charge wirelessly. Select Starbucks stores in Boston and San Jose offer Powermat today and the broader rollout can be tracked at www.powermat.com/locations.”
As I noted when the trial started last year, very few phones that come with wireless charging capabilities out of the box are compatible with Powermat, which is part of the Power Matters Alliance (PMA). With very few exceptions most phones and tablets that can be charged without wires use the Qi standard, backed by the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC). That doesn’t mean your phone will need a power outlet at Starbucks, however.
Apple sells cases that add Powermat’s wireless charging technology to the iPhone, for example. Powermat also sells a compatible backplate for the Samsung Galaxy S3. But there are hundreds of phones that aren’t supported natively or through an add-on accessory. Starbucks and Powermat have a solution for that, though.
Small ring-like inserts that can accept a wireless charge and pass it through a phone’s USB or lightning port will be sold, Powermat President Daniel Schreiber told The Verge. So you can plug in one of those so you don’t have to plug in — to an outlet, that is.
While the Powermat implementation isn’t the most prominent in phones today, the Starbuck deal could influence future devices thanks to the large footprint of stores in the U.S. Each one should have at least 10 charging spots for customers. And AT&T, which has been offering phones with the Qi standard, said last year that it would be adding handsets that use the PMA standards.
At least we can enjoy a cup of coffee while we wait for a single standard on the juice in our phones.