• The growth of charging stations from necessity
• Talking with SafeCharge about charging lockers
Smartphones have become more of a necessity. Many people would be lost without them, however, the constant use can find you draining the battery often. When you’re out on the event floor there’s no time to run up to your hotel to charge your phone and thankfully charging stations were invented to remedy this situation. A charging station is a bonus to attendees but being tethered to those charging stations can be bad for business. A few companies are now offering the option of charging lockers for events, a small locker you can put your phone in and either have it plugged in or sit on a charging pad.
Jennifer Haire, CMP, Director of Association & Conference Services for the National Center for State Courts in Williamsburg,VA held their Court Technology Conference (CTC) at the Minneapolis Convention Center in 2015. “Because our meeting is paperless, and we use an app for agendas, speaker handouts, etc. most of our attendees have their smartphones and tablets with them. We found that providing plug in stations was useless since attendees had to stay with their devices while charging. With the self-locking stations, attendees can plug in and go wander the exhibit hall, or network with others while their devices charge.” According to Haire the systems were very well received and easy to use, “Once attendees knew what they were, they were full.” She explained that the devices were sponsored at a 2014 event but due to the value of the units to their attendees, they have continued to include these types of devices in their conference budget.
This technology is simple but still being fleshed out for all the possibilities. SafeCharge out of Chicago is one of the few Midwest based companies that offer charging lockers for events with options to customize the wrapping and screens for customers. “It’s a newer industry…It’s definitely growing and the competitions showing up….” Dave Adams of SafeCharge remarked on the small market that currently exists, more companies are seeing the need for charging lockers at their meetings or events. Adams recently worked with a large law firm that had SafeCharge placing lockers all around the Marriott in which the event was located. He detailed more, “All over the US we ship units…we’ll customize the screen and wrapping of the unit and then get it shipped out to plug in and charge up for events.”
There are a few trends in charging technology that are considered greener or more efficient and might be seen in future charging lockers but the technology might not be there quite yet. We asked Adams about the possibility of solar powered charging lockers, aside from the obvious drawback of every event not being outdoors he told us “If it’s solar it’s gotta have a heating and cooling unit because it’s outside…we’ve flirted with the idea but it would end up being an entirely new product…and we’ve already designed a product that can be used outside, I wouldn’t leave it out 365 days a year but it’s shielded and able to handle week-long events where it might rain.”
Another trend is the charging pads that are more universal than charging plugs and may take up less space in a locker setup. Adams had this to say, “We’ve thought about the pads but it’ll be slower. It’s not quite there yet…you can’t beat a metal-on-metal connection, plus the pad has to be plugged in somewhere or be constantly recharged somewhere else so you’re just saving the half a second of plugging a cord into your phone…when we get to the point where you can buy a WiFi router that not only gives you internet but also sends a signal to charge your phone then we’ll have something to worry about.”
At any given event there are bound to be times when you need your phone to take a quick note, trade contact info, or help hashtag blast twitter. Charging stations assure that you’re only out of the game for a short while, and charging lockers give the security you’d want around an expensive pocket computing device.