Starbucks introduces in-store wireless phone charging

Coffee chain Starbucks is providing wireless phone charging hotspots across many of its US stores, allowing customers to power their smart devices while they consume food and drink.

Beginning with stores in San Francisco's Bay Area, the service will be rolled out across many of the retailer's US stores in 2014 before entering Asian and European markets next year. A full national rollout in Starbucks company-operated stores and Teavana Fine Teas + Tea Bars is planned over time.

Starbucks is working with Duracell Powermat – a joint venture between Procter & Gamble's Duracell brand and Powermat Technologies – which will equip stores with designated areas on tables and counters where customers can place their compatible device and charge wirelessly. Select Starbucks stores in Boston and San Jose already offer Powermat today, following trials in recent months.

The so-called 'Powermat Spots' comply with the open standard set by the Power Matters Alliance, whose members include AT&T, Blackberry, HTC, Huawei, LG, Microsoft, Qualcomm, Samsung, TI and ZTE.

Ran Poliakine, CEO of Powermat Technologies, said: "Powermat Spots in Starbucks are the result of almost a decade of scientific research spanning material sciences, magnetic induction and mesh networking.

"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."

Chief digital officer at Starbucks, Adam Brotman, said the business was pleased with the customer response to its pilot tests, adding that the facility will add convenience to its customers.

Starbucks, which is often cited as an innovator in the mobile technology space due to early adoption of mobile payments and mobile loyalty schemes, recently announced that it is looking to expand its presence in Latin America.

In May, the retailer confirmed it is on-track to open its first café in Colombia in Bogota in midsummer through a joint venture between two long-term partners, Alsea and Grupo Nutresa.

It is hoped that the joint venture plans will expand significantly across Colombia over the next five years, while shops are also planned for Bolivia and Panama in the coming years.

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Duracell Powermat