Stay Plugged In: Rising Trend from NeoCon50

Stay Plugged In: Rising Trend from NeoCon50

06/12/2018 By Katie Downing

If you own a cell phone or other electronic device, chances are you've done this at some point in a public place: looked around for the nearest outlet. Well, charging stations are making it even easier to stay plugged in. In fact, it's a rising trend Christoph Trappe is experiencing on the frontline of NeoCon50

Sand Dollar pictured below from ECA/Dekko

Sand Dollar from DekkoHe's seeing outlets that include USB and USBC cords. Don't have a cord with you? (Face it - who wants to carry one more thing?) Utilize wireless charging. NeoCon has featured wireless charging in the past, but many devices weren't equipped to utilize its power, according to Dustin Ruth, Director of Sales at Electri-Cable Assemblies (ECA).

Dustin Ruth, Director of ECA, chatting with Christoph Trappe about outlet trends.Dustin is with Christoph Trappe (both pictured), talking about ways companies are using new outlets to satisfy people's power needs. (Spoiler alert: this even includes outlets in furniture.)

Listen to Dustin and Christoph now.

You can also read the full interview below:

Christoph: Hello, everyone. Again, it’s Christoph Trappe, interiors + sources and BUILDINGS Media at NeoCon50 in Chicago.

Today, I want to talk about the newest trend of what I would call USB cords, USB outlets and regular outlets in furniture. I’m actually joined by Dustin Ruth. He is the Director at ECA. And he’s going to talk to us a little bit about what is the trend? What is he seeing out there? Why is it actually happening?

Before I turn it over to him, I do have a couple of comments myself. It’s a trend I noticed. I’m always plugged in, as wireless as we want to be today. You know, we still have to plug in our phones, our laptops, all those things. And a few years ago, I remember when the University of Iowa football team, they were playing in the Big Ten obviously. They redid their locker room. And every player has an outlet in their locker. When I went to college, Dustin, we did…

Dustin: We didn’t.

Christoph: …not even have iPhones. But now every Division I player at Iowa…

Dustin: Yeah.

Christoph: …has an outlet. So how about the trend in the industry?

Dustin: Well, what it really is, is there’s becoming a third office. So, everybody has their office at work and then they have an office at home. And now there’s becoming a third office. That may be at the airport, that may be at a coffee shop. That may be in college at the student union or places like that. Everybody needs charging power for those places where they sit, and they relax and they work. And so those charging spots are becoming needed everywhere. The café is another great spot for it. The café at the places they work.

Ashley Link 30 from Dekko.
Ashely Link 30 from ECA/Dekko

So, power’s needed at all these spots. And with that power, it’s advancing to more than just a plug. It’s now USB and it’s USBC. There’s a new technology that’s coming out that will be able to (it’s becoming more readily available in phones and laptops and things like that) where you’ll be able to carry a cord around and be able to charge multiple devices like your phone and your laptop and your tablet all off the same cord.

Christoph: And what’s interesting, they’re still a long way to go.

Dustin: Yes there is.

Christoph: Because I remember, I asked one IT person one time, I needed a better battery for my laptop. And she said, “For what?” And I said, “For the airplane.” She goes, “Every airplane now has outlets.” And that is actually not true.

Dustin: Not true.

Christoph: Because most planes that I fly on, they don’t. And then the other thing is, at the very least, American Airlines flies an old 777…

Dustin: Yep.

Christoph: …from here to London. And they have car outlets. And I don’t even use a car charger in my car.

Dustin: Yeah. Of course. Yeah. It’s nice when you’re lucky enough to get on that seat, that plane that has thouse. But yeah. It’s only certain flights that have them so you can’t even plan on it anymore.

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So, you really need to, you know, so we got charging banks and we got different things we carry with us. But power is needed everywhere now. Everywhere we sit, everywhere we relax.

We have a big trend goin’ on right now with car dealerships of providing power in car dealerships because you get your car serviced and so you sit down and wait. Well, what do you do? You look for the wall with the outlet in it. So, we’re starting to have ways to outfit those type of settings also. So, it’s anywhere where people sit. And we all carry multiple devices with us. We all have one or two or three devices with us. And it always needs to charge somehow. 

Runabout from Dekko/ECA
Runabout from ECA/Dekko

Christoph: Well, currently, I have four devices with - I have a laptop in my bag, I have the iPhone, which we’re recording this on, I got the air pods…

Dustin: Yes.

Christoph: …which need to be plugged in once in a while.

Dustin: Yep.

Christoph: I got the Apple watch - Apple fan boy I guess. But it’s a long way to go, right?

Dustin: Yes.

Christoph: Because I run into places you can’t plug in. And then how do you integrate it into furniture?

Dustin: Well…

Christoph: I mean you don’t want it to be in your face too much either, right?

Dustin: Correct. But you know, you’re naming all these different devices.

Wireless charging from Dekko/ECAAnd one of the other things that’s becoming very prevalent too is wireless charging now. You know, everybody waited around. Wireless charging has been shown at NeoCon for six, seven years, but it never went anywhere because it wasn’t built into all the devices. Now, it’s being built in and the iPhone, the new iPhone 8 and iPhone X has now been released with wireless charging in it.

So, we have pods throughout the mart here where people can walk by, set their phone down and get a charge off it. You don’t even need to plug it in or anything. And so now with that starting to get integrated, I have a wireless bluetooth speaker that has that wireless charging in it. 

You talk about your pods, you talk about some of these things that you have - now, those will all start moving to this wireless charging. So, there’s this USB charging. There’s this power everywhere, but it’s also the wireless. And like you said, how do we integrate that so that it doesn’t look like it’s sticking out like a sore thumb?

Ashley InLine from Dekko
Ashley InLine from ECA/Dekko

Christoph: Yeah.

Dustin: You know? And that’s what we’re doing now.

Christoph: Great. Thank you so much for the overview. And best of luck to everybody that you find a spot where you sit and you can actually plug in your phone.

We’ll check in again another time from NeoCon 50 and thanks for listening.

Want more NeoCon50 coverage? Find out what happened on day one.

Listen to Christoph Trappe and Jeff Stirling at the BOMA conference about wellness in the workplace.