Will Starbucks revive Wireless Charging technology?
Wireless (or “inductive”) charging is one of those technologies that sounded ultra cool when it first came onto the scene, but gradually lost momentum in the public eye. That decrease in prominence was likely due to a couple of reasons:
- It had simply not become widely commercially available. There were very few devices that could be laid on a charging plate and easily charged (ease of use is, after all, the whole idea of the technology); and
- It really isn’t that hard to plug a charging cable in, is it?
So that was back in 2009 when the Wireless Power Consortium announced that they were approaching release of a commercially available technology to make it easy to charge say your mobile phone or digital camera via induction. However, it was not until last year that we started to see devices hit the market under the “Qi” (pronounced “chee”) inductive power standard.
There are now a range of mobile phones which readily allow inductive charging and there is a slew of laptops set to launch with the same technology. The thing is though, you don’t just need a device that is capable of wireless charging — you also need a place to wireless charge it.
Wireless charging in the home is not a necessity. Sure, eventually it may well become the standard. However, right now, most people probably really don’t see the need to spend money on acquiring that technology when it isn’t all that hard to plug your phone into the wall. USB cables are everywhere these days, after all.
On the move, however — that is a different story.We don’t always have the ability to charge our phone when we are out and about. Starbucks might be a big part of changing that.
The famous chain of coffee shops which originated in Seattle is trialing the wireless charging in some of its stores:
After a test in Boston, Starbucks is bringing wireless cellphone charging to a handful of coffee shops in Silicon Valley next month.
Customers at 10 stores — at least those with the necessary add-on sleeves — will be able to give their phones a quick boost while they drink their tea or coffee.
Starbucks is hoping to spur the wireless charging industry in much the same way it did with Wi-Fi more than a decade ago. And, as it did with the Wi-Fi standard, Starbucks is also potentially shifting the balance of power in a standards battle.
As you’ll note, there is the need for a charging sleeve, unless you have one of the very few Qi-compatible devices (like the popular Samsung Galaxy S4, for example). Oh, but hang on, Starbucks has decided not to go with Qi, but one of two rivals in the Duracell Powermat.
We will leave that battle for another time. No doubt however, one of the three big names in the conductive charging space will win out. In much the same way as SD cards vs Sony Memory Sticks, HD DVDs vs Blu-ray discs, Mini-discs vs MP3 players, VHS vs Beta and so on… we will see an eventual winner in this market. As consumers we can just sit back and watch.
The key here is, it may not be too far off where you will be able to stroll into your local cafe to easily charge your flagging phone battery on that power-sapping smartphone of yours.