Auburn students pay $5 to use the charging station.

Students at four universities can avoid a modern-day campus nightmare: The last of your smart phone’s battery power runs out on the way to the lecture hall.

Towson University near Baltimore, the University of Miami (UM), Auburn University, and the University of Alaska (UA) have unveiled mobile-device charging kiosks that can refuel a host of smart phones and computer tablets that students rely on for in-class interaction, note taking, and web searching.

The kiosks, made by Baltimore-based NV3 Technologies and sold for $6,500 apiece, charge up to a dozen mobile devices at once, from Apple iPhones to Blackberries and a range of tablets like the iPad.

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The kiosks can recharge a device with no battery life in less than 10 minutes, said Mostafa Razzak, a NV3 spokesman.

Auburn charges $5 per battery fill-up, while Towson, UM, and UA offer the service for free.

The kiosk stands about six feet and has a 19-inch high-definition LCD screen on top and a 32-inch screen near the bottom of the machine.

The charging stations provide up to 800 milliamps of electrical current to smart phones and computer tablets, or about 300 more than other charging kiosks, according to NV3 Technologies’ website.

On at least one campus, the charging stations are already a hit.

Ralph Valle, a part-time faculty member at Towson University, said “students have inundated us with positive feedback” since the NV3 kiosks were installed on the 20,000-student campus.

Whether for academic or personal use, he said, students’ constant use of mobile devices can leave their batteries dead with no time to run back to their dorm to charge the device for several hours.

“It’s no secret that today’s college student spends a significant amount of their time — both personal and for their studies — on their smart phone, tablet, or other mobile internet computing device,” Valle said, adding that the NV3 kiosk was placed near the university’s student union, a location with consistent foot traffic.

College students using their phones to watch videos and other streaming web content that requires significant battery power means many fully-charged batteries are frequently sapped during the school day, said Ryan Doak, managing partner at NV3 Technologies.

“The need for convenient battery charging options while on the go is an absolute necessity,” he said.

NV3 Technologies also makes a desktop version of its charging station, which also charges up to 12 devices at once.

A survey of 500 students nationwide conducted by a researcher at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., showed that smart phone usage among college students increased from 27 percent in February 2009 to 48 percent in July 2010.

Nine of 10 students who own a smart phone use the device to access the internet, according to the Ball State survey, conducted by journalism professor Michael Hanley, director of the university’s Institute for Mobile Media Research.

More recent evidence suggests mobile device usage on college campuses has increased tenfold over the past year as computer tablets come down in price and become more commonplace.

Technology officials at the University of Missouri-Columbia reported last month that the number of wireless devices connected to the school’s network increased from 900 last academic year to 8,000 this fall.

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