Jay-Z Wants You to Put Your Phone Down — to Charge It Up
There’s nothing more frustrating than picking up your cellphone to make a call, only to find your battery is dead. Or finally finding an outlet to charge up your phone, but oops, you left the charger at home. What if you could charge your phone simply by doing what you do anyway; set it on the table at a restaurant, or on the desk at the office?
That’s the goal of a new joint venture between Duracell and Powermat in creating what they call a Wireless Power Nation. And that’s precisely why the rapper and entrepreneur Jay-Z signed on in January to be an investor and spokesperson.
“I believe in the future of wireless energy and I believe that Duracell Powermat is the company to bring on the revolution,” Jay-Z said in a statement. “I’m partnering with Duracell Powermat because they’re providing the solutions for the future.”
Mashable got a sneak peak of how Jay-Z is driving the wireless power nation with a visit to his 40/40 Club in New York City. It’s the sports bar and lounge owned by the hip-hop mogul, outfitted with Powermat charging stations through the resin-top bar area, VIP lounges and the stadium style seating with a view of the 165-inch state-of-the-art video walls.
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The Powermat charging system is not new. In fact, it’s been around for a few years, and has proven to be pretty simple and convenient, but the cases are cumbersome and bulky. A “mat,” called a Powermat, is plugged into a wall outlet and provides wireless power. Simply lay your Powermat-enabled phone on the mat and you’ll hear a “ZZZT” noise as it connects wirelessly and begins charging.
There are competitors out as well. Energizer has a similar system that works with the Qi wireless charging standard.
Wireless Power Nation
Sitting in Jay-Z’s chair in one of his VIP lounges, I put a Powermat-enabled case on my iPhone and did just what I would do naturally. Place my water bottle and phone on the table next to me. I immediately heard that familiar “ZZZT” noise. The table had a built-in Powermat. Now imagine if you could do that everywhere you go.
In fact, pretty soon, you will. The 40/40 Club is just the first stop in Duracell Powermat’s goal to bring wireless charging hot spots to all the places you frequent throughout the day.
Ron Rabinowitz, Duracell Powermat CEO told Mashable it’s working to solve the “running out of juice” issue by partnering with the businesses where you regularly stop throughout your busy day; the gym, the coffee shop, even the airport.
Rabinowitz says Wireless Power Nation will make it even easier to rely on your smartphone for everything, without worrying about your battery life.
“People will be able to charge wirelessly on embedded ‘wireless power hot spots’ in public venues where they travel and interact throughout their day,” he said. “All they will need to do is put their phone on the table, same thing they normally do. The only difference is that now, their smartphones will get charged from the table.”
And as I walked around the 40/40 Club, indeed I was able to lay my phone down along the bars running near the walls, on various banquette tables, even at the concierge stand. Each time I set it down on one of the built-in grommets, which look like embedded coasters, I got “ZZZT.”
Perils of Power
The idea of setting your phone down in a bar after you’ve been using it all day without worrying about draining your battery is great. My fear here is that leaving it out in the open like that, I, or someone else, will spill a drink on my phone.
And what if I get wrapped up in a conversation, get distracted, and simply walk away without my phone? That’s been known to happen when I leave the house in the morning.
Worse yet, with the phone having to be face up to get charged, it’s difficult to see the color case on the back. In that scenario, all iPhones really do look alike. See the picture above we took of some of our phones at Mashable. What if I take home the wrong phone? Or someone takes mine?
To be fair, people do have different cases on their phones, and there will be seven colors available at launch, but in a dimly-lit bar situation, it might require a little extra effort to make sure you grab the right one.
Wireless Power Everywhere
All fears aside, the concept of being able to charge your phone throughout the day makes sense, and the partner relationships will be key. Duracell Powermat has already demonstrated how it will work with GM, starting with the Chevy Volt. You place your phone on the center console and it will immediately begin to charge. What could be easier than that? We’ll start to see these rolling out in 2013. Delta Sky Club members will also see charging stations in New York’s LaGuardia Airport.
How many times have you tweeted and posted pictures from a concert or sporting event only to realize you left yourself with zero battery for the trip home? Maybe someone at Madison Square Garden thought of that, because that venue will also have charging hotspots once its renovation is complete, as will the Westfield Mall in New Jersey.
The company says more partners are being brought on so soon your list of places to get a charge will include restaurants, coffee shops and even the gym.
Rabinowitz says once the program is rolled out beyond New York later next year, a Google app will display a map of all the hotspots near you. As you go about your busy day, you’ll see where you can stop and get a quick top off. Caffeine for you and a charge for your phone.
Future of Wireless Charging
How soon until this technology makes the leap from our smartphone to other devices? Rabinowitz says they started with the iPhone because “there is no other device that there is such a gap between the power needs of the device and what the battery can provide.”
Ultimately, he says, they’d like to see the solution built into the phone itself so you won’t have to use a special case. He showed me a WIC, or wireless integrating charging card, about the size of a compact flash card. They’ll get smaller, he says, and phone manufacturers will simply need to make a slot for them and add connectors.
In the meantime, Duracell Powermat will keep embedding charging capabilities into office furniture, cars, restaurants, and eventually, your home. I asked Rabinowitz if my kitchen counter will ever be able to charge my appliances, without any wires. He confidently told me yes, it will be in the kitchen and the furniture in our homes in the future.
Until your house becomes a wireless charging hotspot, you can start charging your phone with Duracell Powermat using the just-released 24 Hour Power System. Duracell has re-designed the mat and cases to be sleeker, thinner, and now the mat comes in white. The phone cases will be available in a variety of colors, not just black and bulky which was the only option before, and down the road there will be even more designs to choose from.
The 24 Hour Power System, which costs $100, also includes a back-up battery for re-charging your devices on the go. It comes with an Apple connector and micro USB tip so it fits most phones, and it too can be charged up by simply placing it on the Powermat.