Starbucks has partnered with Powermat to introduce wireless charging zones to its coffee shops in the UK.
The technology is initially being rolled out in 10 Starbucks locations in London, with a future deployment planned across the UK.
While it may be wireless, Powermat's charging technology isn't entirely free of attachments. It requires a 'Ring' fob that plugs into the smartphone or tablet's charging port, which must then be placed over a specific spot, marked on each table. Each location will have a small number of these Rings available for customers to borrow, to introduce the concept to the public, but in the long term, Starbucks will also be selling them at a price point of £10.
As with free wi-fi, which the retailer deployed across the UK in 2011, wireless charging is another way of encouraging people to come in-store. The Powermat system does feature a monitoring network, but this doesn't collect any data on the user or the device being charged, only on how often the chargers are used, and for how long.
Powermat first partnered with Starbucks in the US in 2012 for a pilot of the technology, and has since deployed wireless charging in 2,000 locations, mainly in the San Francisco area. The company has also partnered with McDonald's and General Motors, which is introducing in-car wireless charging to its vehicles.