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Starbucks Makes Itself More Addictive With Wireless Phone Charging

Soon, you'll be able to recharge at Starbucks, and charge your device.
Courtesy of Duracell Powermat
Soon, you'll be able to recharge at Starbucks, and charge your device.

Starbucks' latest innovation has nothing to do with coffee beans or breakfast, but it may lure the technologically dependent among us into its stores.

The beverage giant is partnering with Duracell Powermat to roll out wireless phone charges in Starbucks and Teavana locations. That's right — wireless. You'll be able to put your phone down on designated spots on a table, and batteries will charge from there, sans cables, adapters or outlets. The rollout starts in the San Francisco Bay Area. USA Today has the details:

"Over the next three years, more than 100,000 table chargers — built-in Powermat charge pads — will be installed in Starbucks' 7,500 company-owned stores in the U.S. That's about a dozen per store.

" 'Starbucks believes this is another step in staying ahead of the curve when it comes to in-store technology,' says Adam Brotman, chief digital officer at Starbucks.

"For Starbucks, it's all about figuring out new ways to appeal to its techie, often young-ish clientele. Battery depletion ranks among the top stress-inducing frustrations for cellphone owners. Not only is Starbucks eliminating the stress, it's giving customers a cool reason to linger and buy another $4 cup of its designer coffee."

We just hope the charging tables actually charge devices fast enough. We wouldn't want to see so much lingering that there aren't tables left for the rest of us.

For the San Franciscans and residents of other guinea pig cities like Boston and San Jose who are getting this first, note that using the system requires a wireless charging-capable phone. It's unclear what percentage of phones is actually capable of that right now.

As Bloomberg reports:

"Today, very few phones have cordless charging technology — Powermat's or a rival's — built in. Apple Inc. sells cases that can let an iPhone use a Powermat charging spot. Sprint Corp., Verizon Wireless and AT&T Inc. each sell phones that are compatible with different types of wireless charging."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Elise Hu is a host-at-large based at NPR West in Culver City, Calif. Previously, she explored the future with her video series, Future You with Elise Hu, and served as the founding bureau chief and International Correspondent for NPR's Seoul office. She was based in Seoul for nearly four years, responsible for the network's coverage of both Koreas and Japan, and filed from a dozen countries across Asia.