Starbucks Officially Debuts Wireless Charging in Shops
Starbucks has begun to deploy wireless charging stations at select coffee shops in the San Francisco Bay Area. The company said 200 stores now offer wireless charging spots on tables and coffee bars. Customers with compatible handsets can place their devices on the spots to receive a power boost while sipping a latte. Starbucks is working with Powermat, which uses the inductive charging standard developed by the Power Matters Alliance. Some phones in the market use the PMA standard for wireless charging, but many do not. Powermat makes a wide array of sleeves and other accessories for devices that don't support wireless charging on their own. Starbucks will allow customers to buy or borrow a special Powermat Ring, which is PMA compliant and plugs into phones via USB. The Powermat Ring costs $10, or can be used for free when purchasing food or beverages. Earlier this year, Starbucks said it will add about a dozen wireless charging stations to each of its 7,500 locations in the U.S., though many of the deployments won't take place until 2015. There are still competing standards in the wireless charging space. Qi, the standard created by the Wireless Power Consortium, still has strong support in some quarters and is supported by a number of phones. Starbucks' wireless charging project is being supported by AT&T, which is a member of the PMA.
Powermat Shows Universal Fast Charging Ring
Powermat this week showed off an early version of its forthcoming universal fast wireless charging ring for public Powermat charging stations, at locations such as Starbucks. Current charging rings come in two separate versions: Lightning for iPhones, and micro-USB for all other phones.
Powermat Charging Stations May Soon Require App
Powermat today announced a new "mobile engagement platform" that will allow public charging station providers such as Starbucks to push marketing directly to phones via an app. Companies that choose to deploy the new platform will be able to require users to download and install the app before their phones will charge.
Powermat to Upgrade Starbucks Charging Mats to Support iPhone X
Powermat, which has deployed PMA-compliant wireless chargers at thousands of Starbucks locations around the U.S., plans to update its charging pads to support the iPhone X, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone 8 from Apple. At the moment, there are two competing wireless charging standards, PMA and Qi.
PMA and A4WP Rebrand As the AirFuel Alliance
The Power Matters Alliance and Alliance for Wireless Power today announced plans to fully merge organizations under the AirFuel Alliance brand. The standard-bearers for wireless charging agreed to work together earlier this year, and today's rebranding is the final step in the process of creating a single consortium committed to improving the standards for and experience of wireless charging.
Powermat Has Joined the Wireless Power Consortium
Powermat, a member of the Power Matters Alliance using the AirFuel standard, has also joined the Wireless Power Consortium, the group that supports the Qi wireless charging standard. Powermat became a member of the WPC this week, where it will contribute its technology to improve and advanced inductive wireless charging for both PMA and Qi devices.