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Starbucks begins nationwide wireless charging rollout in the US

Tom Morgan
12 Jun 2014
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The iconic coffee chain will be introducing Powermat wireless charging stations to its US stores following a successful pilot trial

Starbucks has announced plans to start rolling out wireless charging stations across its entire chain of US stores, following a successful small scale trial last year. The coffee chain confirmed the plans on its official news blog last night, but the news will come as a blow to at least one wireless charging company.

Starbucks

Starbucks will begin rolling out Powermat spots to Starbucks and Teavana locations in the San Francisco Bay Area, followed by the rest of the west coast towards the end of the year, with 2015 seeing further expansion to cities throughout the US. Each Powermat spot is a small circular pad built into tables and counters, which compatible phones can be laid on to get a quick battery top up while waiting for (or enjoying) a cup of coffee.

Unfortunately for many smartphone owners, the Power Matters Alliance which governs the technical side of Powermat wireless charging is still battling with the Wireless Power Consortium over which standard is best. The WPC's Qi wireless charging standard is built into Google's Nexus 5 and the LG G3, along with several Nokia Lumia handsets, but to use a PMA powermat customers will have to buy a compatible case or external dongle.

It's not currently clear whether Starbucks plans to start stocking these recharging dongles now that the mats themselves will be rolling out across the country, but it would make sense seeing as they are crucial to get any use out of the charging stations.

“Powermat Spots in Starbucks are the result of almost a decade of scientific research spanning material sciences, magnetic induction and mesh networking,” Ran Poliakine, Powermat Technologies CEO, said of the deal. “The two-pronged power-plug dates back to the era of the horse drawn carriage, so that today’s announcement marks the first meaningful upgrade to the way we access power in well over a century.”

Once Starbucks has finished its rollout in the US, which isn't expected to happen until at least the end of 2015, it's possible the UK could also be in line to receive wireless charging in stores - whether the company expands the programme will depend on how successful it proves with American customers.

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