Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Joy to the juice: AT&T, Goal Zero light up Street Charge stations in NYC

Electric vehicle owners would love to see more changing stations for their cars. Surely, they will be jealous when they hear the news that was announced on Tuesday: AT&T and Goal Zero are partnering to give smartphone owners a boost of power, in New York City, starting June 18 (yes, today).

The firms will deploy Street Charge ststions in a number of locations around the Big Apple. On Day One, public power will come to Fort Green Park. It will later expand to Brooklyn Bridge Park, Coney Island, Governor's Island, Hudson River Park, Randall's Island, Riverside Park, Rockaways, Summerstage in Central Park, and Union Square over the next few weeks.

The idea, of course, is to give mobile device owners a way to keep their devices going throughout the day. The new breed of smartphones run through their batteries quickly, and it doesn't help that Apple (and some Android OEMs, too) sees fit to make device batteries non-user-swappable.

Each Street Charge pole will have three 15-watt solar panels and a 168 watt-hour battery, meaning each station could potentially power up to six devices for several days without exposure to the sun. Designed locally by Pensa, each station has six USB connectors and comes pre-equipped with the most common adapters (meaning for iPhones and iPads, 30-pin and Lightning plugs; for Android and Windows Phone micro-USB). Everyone else can use BYOC (bring your own cable) as there will be three bare USB ports.

Each unit will put out two amps of 5V power per plug, which means it can support just about any USB-powered device. Samsung tablet owners will have to be more cautious as they are notoriously hard to charge on generic adapters.

In a press release, Joe Atkin, President and CEO of Goal Zero said:
We're excited to team up with AT&T and Pensa to help make New York a little greener and solar power a little more accessible. Nearly half of all Americans own a smartphone and the amount of time we spend on handheld devices has increased dramatically. All too often, we hear the dreaded low-battery beep and it happens at the most inconvenient times. Street Charge will fix that.
"Fix" may be a bit hyperbolic, as it's obviously impractical to totally "fill up." Unlike an EV charging station, you're not going to leave your phone there charging while you go shopping.

Despite that, we'd expect that folks will juice up their Bluetooth headsets, cameras, and more, in addition to smartphones. If the trial is successful, it will expand to more locations in New York City. We hope that if successful enough, AT&T will push these out in more cities.

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