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Starbucks to let customers charge their smartphones wirelessly

The company, like other coffee shop chains, is attempting to increase the time customers spend in their coffee shop.

By Ananth Baliga
Starbucks to let customers charge their smartphones wirelessly
Starbucks customers can now charge their mobile devices wirelessly by placing them on Powermat Spots across 7,500 company-owned locations. (UPI/Billie Jean Shaw)

SEATTLE, June 12 (UPI) -- Starbucks is partnering with Duracell Powermat to enable customers to charge their smartphones wirelessly rather than plug in at the limited number of power outlets.

Customers can now place their mobile devices on Powermat Spots on counters and table tops to recharge them across company owned Starbucks and Teavana shops. The coffee shop chain is already testing the technology at Boston and San Jose locations and roll-out will begin Thursday in San Francisco.

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Over the next three years, more than 100,000 wireless chargers will be placed at 7,500 company-owned Starbucks shops in the U.S. The company is planning pilot programs in Europe and Asia within a year.

The technology is a joint venture between Procter and Gamble's Duracell brand and Powermat Technologies. The Powermat Spots comply with the standard set by the Power Matters Alliance, whose members include AT&T, BlackBerry, HTC, Huawei and Microsoft, among others.

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There has been a battle between three competing wireless power standards, with different mobile devices using different standards. Nokia Lumia handsets, for instance, can use wireless power run on the Qi standard, led by the Wireless Power Consortium.

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A third standard called Rezence is backed by the A4WP, a group of technology companies including Qualcomm and Samsung Electronics. Rezence-enabled devices are still not out in the market, but A4WP and Power Matters Alliance have signed a deal to let devices run smoothly on either standard.

Starbucks was one of the first coffee chains to provide free WiFi and mobile payments, so it's not surprising that the company is again at the forefront of using a new technology in its shops. The company also introduced a service that lets customers place their order before they arrive at Starbucks locations.

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