The Battery Battle: Mobile Charging Solutions on the Rise

Alison K. Lanier

With commuters tethered to their phones on trains and buses, companies are acting, through clever advertising schemes or new gadgets, to make public urban spaces more conducive to the infamously limited battery life of phones. Being on the move makes keeping devices charged a daily struggle, particularly with the sudden battery death of a phone in cold or heat, phones with faulty battery meters, or any number of nasty surprises that result in a hopelessly dead battery.

Nvate battery life pay-to-sit-and-charge solutions phone charger phone-charging bus stops Universal Gadget Wrist Charger Wireless Charging Stations


Public spaces are molding themselves to suit the battery-driven lifestyle by adding away-from-home charging stations to keep app-drained batteries alive throughout the day. From bus stations and Starbucks to wireless charging and personal gadgetry, batteries are now supported in more and more locales at home and away.

Rest and Recharge

Bus stops in various cities are facing the challenge of commuters separated from chargers and outlets by eliminating the need for either. In Boston, Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles, you can find these energy sources built into Vitamin Water’s newest ad campaign, according to iDownloading. As Beatweek described, the ads are “part of the soft drink brand’s ‘You’re Up’ campaign, underlining its message that it is formulated to provide a quick boost when you are on the go.”

The faces behind this practical new ad campaign are Crispin Porter and Alex Bogusky, according to Gizmodo, which are the guys responsible for the “Laptop Killer” ad campaign. For those who missed it, the “Laptop Hunter” ads—for Microsoft—made headlines after word got out that they were conceived, pitched, and produced on Macs, according to Cult of Mac. Pictures leaked of the marketing duo in the ad agency surrounded by—you guessed it—Mac laptops. The pair is known for their high visibility and their publicity splashes, for better or worse, in their campaigns.

Quick Wireless Charging Stations

Whatever the impetus behind the step—and even if travelers have to bow to the advertisers for battery life—the phone-charging bus stops are a common-sense convenience. And Vitamin Water’s not alone. One Massachusetts Avenue bus stop in Boston, for example, promises to follow a similar concept to create a wireless recharging space for devices, practically, and the community, idealistically. In whatever case, advertisers are jumping on the newly-rolling bandwagon to link their products, convenience, and energy in consumers’ minds.

More pay-to-sit-and-charge solutions are at hand as well. Establishments like Panera and Starbucks began offering wireless charging stations, which are small, plastic, black circular patches on outdoor tables and countertops.

Bracer of Battery Charge +2

ThinkGeek, the “Stuff for Smart Minds” nerd haven of Enterprise-shaped pizza cutters and other “Geek Toys,” now has on sale a more personal and local solution to the battery-tethered population. For a slim $25, a customer can order for delivery the “Bracer of Battery Life +2,” otherwise known as the Universal Gadget Wrist Charger.

Looking like a thick, but still relatively unobtrusive watch strap sans watch, the charger runs on a USB charge off of your computer and packs in a compact bundle, a mini USB with six connectors that make it compatible with almost any breed of Apple, Sony, Nokia, or Samsung gadget.

The product proposes itself as the solution to the dilemma of a long car ride, riding shotgun with your handy gaming tablet going dead around mile 300. Of course, it wouldn’t go amiss on the wrist of a commuter or outdoor worker either who doesn’t have convenient outlets at hand. According to ThinkGeek, the bracelet “straps comfortably to your wrist and plugs in to just about any electronic device you like. It’ll power cell phones, mp3 players, gaming systems, or any device compatible with mini USB.”

Yet More Options

These public conveniences may be the forerunners to private, at-home options becoming more numerous. Apple last year filed a patent for a new kind of wireless charging, as Nvate reported at the time, which would finally untether devices from outlets and only necessitate that they remain within proximity. While wireless charging in homes, of the kind Apple has promised, is far from the norm at this point, public charging indicates that new battery charging solutions are becoming more and more of a priority as a day-to-day solution for cell-phone-dependent consumers.

From bus stops to Starbucks and eventually to homes, evolving charging solutions remind us of and reinforce our reliance on smartphone battery life, as well as expanding the market for better and more omnipresent fixes to draining batteries.

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