Starbucks rolling out wireless charging mats in US stores

12 Jun 2014

The 'circles' that will power smartphones

Coffee chain Starbucks has begun rolling out wireless charging mats for devices in the US after trials in a small number of stores proved to be successful.

The company had previously struck a deal with Powermat, the producer of the wireless pads that will be built into at least 10 tables in each of Starbucks’ stores beginning on the US west coast this year and expanding outwards in 2015. Starbucks has yet to release any information about when its international stores will be able to avail of the pads.

The biggest challenge facing Powermat and Starbucks is getting the technology to charge the phones wirelessly to make it into smartphones that could, otherwise, not allow them to charge at all.

Currently, Powermat’s biggest competitor Qi has established itself in a number of smartphones, including the latest LG G3, Google’s Nexus 5 and a number of Nokia devices, however, Powermat capability has been included in a number of cases designed for use with some of the most popular phones, including iPhones and some Samsung devices.

Perhaps its most important implementation is the mass production of small ‘rings’ which plug into the phone’s charging socket and will be available for purchase at a small cost given its inexpensive design.

Speaking to The Verge, Powermat’s president Daniel Schreiber said it won’t be too long before phones are all able to use their charging points in store.

“Devices will come out with compatible technology, and we’ll see an industry that’s been hamstrung a bit with standards issues and conflicting implementations coalesce a common ground.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic