Wireless charging -- McDonald's is lovin' it

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Aircharge wireless charging stations embedded in a McDonald's counter.

Credit: WPC

Prior to the rollout, only nine McDonald’s offered wireless charging

McDonald's is installing 600 wireless charging stations for enabled mobile devices in 50 restaurants in the U.K.

The announcement represents a major expansion of wireless charging technology that's still in the early stages of deployment in public places.

The charging stations from Aircharge are based on the Qi (pronounced "chee") wireless standard, which is backed by the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC).

Of the 20 million consumer devices estimated to have shipped in 2013 with wireless charging capabilities, nearly all were built with the Qi specification, said market research firm IHS.

According to IHS, 80% of consumers want wireless charging in public places.

Prior to this latest announcement, only nine McDonalds restaurants in Hannover, Germany had installed Qi chargers in its tables.

"This is a major step for McDonalds, but in a way, they are catching up with other restaurants across the world who have already deployed Qi in their establishments, " said John Perzow, vice president of market development for the WPC.

Other restaurants, such as Kitchen 67, based in Michigan, and the Kanga Café, Balzacs Coffee Bar, Sense Appeal and Thor -- all in Toronto -- have also installed Qi-standard wireless charging.

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A Duracell Powermat charging station in a Starbucks.

The expanded rollout comes after a successful initial market test between Aircharge and McDonald.

The largest rollout of wireless charging technology has been at Starbucks, where last year the coffee shop conglomerate announced a nationwide rollout.

Starbucks, which like McDonald's spent months testing the technology in city locations, is deploying Duracell Powermat chargers. 

Duracell 'Powermat Spots' are being placed in designated areas on tables and counters where customers can place their devices to charge wirelessly.

Duracell Powermat is a member of the Power Matters Alliance (PMA), one of the three consortiums rolling out products. The PMA last year also announced a deal to share technologies with the third consortium, the Alliance For Wireless Power (A4WP).

Earlier this week, the PMA and A4WP announced a merger that pits them squarely against the WPA.

The A4WP is backed by more than 140 companies, including Intel and Samsung Electronics, and the PMA has 70-members that include ATT on its board. The WPA consortium, however, is the largest; it has 217 members that include Philips, Qualcomm and Nokia.

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