Starbucks plans to add a wireless charging plan to its United States locations through a partnership with Powermat, the coffee retailer announced today. The plan, which will be implemented over the next couple of years, will allow patrons to plug in their devices right at the bar or table. Starbucks locations will include convenient charging locations instead of forcing patrons to utilize outlets to keep their smartphones or tablets powered up.
Starbucks joins other major corporations like General Motors, Apple, and AT&T in pushing towards the widespread use of wireless energy. The coffee brand began working with Powermat in 2013 with a pilot for wireless charging plans. Cafe locations in both Silicon Valley and throughout Boston have already tried the wireless charging plan. Starbucks plans on adding at least 100,000 wireless charging plans in total.

The way that Starbucks and other brands can offer wireless charging capabilities occurs through a process of magnetic induction. The pad used to charge the device utilizes magnets in order to induce an electrical current. That current then can be used by a device to charge up its battery. A few different brands utilize wireless charging standards, but Powermat has chosen Rezence.

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An issue exists though since not all wireless charging brands utilize Rezence standards. For example, the Wireless Power Consortium chooses to use Qi standards. That means that certain brands and products, like those made by Qualcomm, will use different standards than those produced by LG, AT&T, Samsung, and BlackBerry.

Customers that are curious if their smartphone or other mobile device uses Qi or Rezence standards will just have to visit a Starbucks to find out the hard way. Patrons with an iPhone won’t have this issue though, considering that the iPhone doesn’t need to charge wirelessly. If a patron does find that their device doesn’t work with a Powermat at Starbucks, they can always purchase attachments and other accessories to use wireless charging.

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While this little snag may cause some issues, Starbucks can actually make many people aware of the existence and preference of the Rezence standards by choosing them for its Powermat wireless chargers. If the Rezence standards become widely used, they could become adopted as the main standards for wireless charging plans.

Beyond that benefit, wireless charging plans also allow for quick and easy charging of smartphones and other mobile devices. Customers don’t have to worry about bringing their individual chargers with them when they visit Starbucks and being tethered to those chargers until their phone or tablet is fully charged. They also don’t have to worry about all of the outlets being hogged by other patrons that need to charge their devices.

These wireless chargers also allow for an increase in freedom. While placing the tablet or smartphone on the charging pad, the customer could easily grab the device to reply to a text, write an email, or take a call and then place the device right back on the pad.

This isn’t the first time that such similar technology has been used and attempted to break into the mainstream. As far back as 1999 Apple tried to get in on the game with its AirPort product. This was meant to act as a wireless base station. Starbucks picked up on the wireless trend by 2001, and the two major brands worked together for a deal on the iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store.

Many brands are very pleased with this upgrade in wireless charging from Starbucks. AT&T Mobility’s vice president of accessories and mobile devices Jeff Howard stated: “Starbucks is a highly regarded global brand and its decision to roll out a Powermat network is both empowering and transformative for consumers and the mobile industry as a whole. Many of our newer devices have compatible technology either embedded or available as an added feature to give consumers the freedom to charge wirelessly.”

Starbucks’ chief digital officer Adam Brotman is also positive about these changes. “We’ve always tried to anticipate our customers’ needs early in the adoption curve and provide a world class solution. We’re expanding this nationally to provide our customers a quality and reliable experience as they use our stores as their respite, their office away from home or as a gathering place with their friends and family,” he said.