Starbucks is rolling out wireless charging stations in its stores

Starbucks has announced that it plans to install Powermat wireless charging in stores across the U.S. after a small-scale trial proved successful. The Powermat Spots will first be installed in stores in the San Francisco Bay Area, before being rolled out in the company’s coffee shops nationwide. The west coast will see the wireless charging spots first, during 2014, while the rest of the U.S. will catch up in 2015. Each store should receive at least 10 charging spots. At the moment, there are two dueling wireless charging standards: Qi, backed by companies like HTC, Nokia, Samsung and Sony, and WiCC, backed by Google, AT&T and Duracell. The Starbucks program uses Duracell Powermats, so it’s a serious win for WiCC—and could, perhaps, be enough to finally make the standard mainstream. Perhaps.

Starbucks plans to install Powermat’s wireless charging stations at its coffee stores across the US. After a small pilot run with these “Powermat Spots” — small circles that are seamlessly implanted in tables and counters — the larger rollout will kick off within Starbucks and Teavana locations in the San Francisco Bay Area. Eventually the charging stations will make their way to the company’s coffee and tea shops nationwide. “2014 will be focused mainly on the west coast, but 2015 will see expansions to major metropolises across the United States,” said Powermat President Daniel Schreiber in an interview withThe Verge. On average, each store should receive 10 or more Powermat Spots. The deal is a major victory for Powermat and the Power Matters Alliance, which remains embroiled in a standards war with the Wireless Power Consortium, purveyor of the Qi charging standard. And at least right now, we’re at something of a stalemate. Qi’s technology has been embedded into the design of far more smartphones, including the new LG G3, Nexus 5, and numerous Nokia devices. PMA’s wireless charging solution hasn’t enjoyed the same adoption among manufacturers; most people still need to buy a compatible case for their phone before ditching the USB cable that came with it. But Schreiber suggested the tide is turning. Consumers can buy PMA-compatible back covers for some Samsung smartphones that enable Powermat charging, and Apple — which hasn’t officially picked a side in this battle — sells a Duracell Powermat iPhone case at its retail stores.

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