Phone charging station installed in Union
Published: Monday, April 16, 2012
Updated: Monday, April 16, 2012 16:04
Memorial Union staff have partnered with a local company to provide students, faculty and staff with access to phone chargers in case they find themselves in a pinch while on campus.
A LastCall charger station was installed in the lower level of the Memorial Union last week in reaction to the realization that phones are or are becoming an essential part of everyday life.
Paul Wraalstad, associate director of the Memorial Union, decided to bring a station to campus after having seen an article about them springing up in Fargo.
"Obviously, students and staff feel that their phone or iPod is critical for regular use during the day," Wraalstad said. "If a battery is going dead and a student does not have a charger, it can be very frustrating for them. This gives them an opportunity to catch a quick charge while grabbing a bite to eat or relaxing in the lounge."
Including NDSU's station, LastCall has four phone-charging units set up in Fargo. The other three are at Dempsey's, the Hub and the Jefferson Bus station on 45th Street.
Ross Brandborg is a co-creator and part owner of LastCall. Realizing the hassle that a dead phone can cause gave him the idea to create the stations a few years ago. It wasn't until phone chargers became more universal, however, that he was able to actualize his plans.
"The problem with a couple of years ago was everyone had a different charging connection," Brandborg said. "Now there's really only the Apple and the micro USB. It really became feasible to put something like this together, and so that's when we took action."
Brandborg works two other associates, one in Fargo and one in Minneapolis. As of now, the units are largely hand-made, but a lot of thought goes into their design.
"We've built the unit to avoid any [security concerns]. We put a lot of time and effort and thought into what people are going to be worried about," Brandborg said.
The units are made of aluminum and require the swipe of a credit card to deposit and retrieve the phone. The unit is set up as a series of lockers, each functioning as a secure and independent charging station.
Furthermore, the creators perceived that there would be a fear associated with access to data. The stations have a CPU unit in them, but Brandborg says he and his associates designed the station to keep computing separate from charging.
"The CPU in there doesn't have any ability to talk to your phone, to access your phone, it doesn't know anything about your phone. There's a real hard-wall division between what you're plugging your phone into and how the rest of the machine is operating," Brandborg said.
The station caters only to phones that use the Apple or micro USB plugs. However, the station does allow users to back out of the transaction if they find their phone to be incompatible after opening the locker.
The station costs $1.95 for the first 30 minutes to use. After that point, users get charged an additional 10 cents per minute, with a maximum cost of $10.
Wraalstad says the installation of the unit is in exploratory phases right now, but anticipates that it will be a service that proves valuable to Memorial Union frequenters.
"While many students carry their chargers, I think this will slowly be recognized as a great emergency backup in cases where a charger is forgotten or a battery is drained unexpectedly," Wraalstad said. "I think this service will be valued in the long run."