by by Michael j. Shapiro | April 01, 2009

Achilles chargerBecause a low-battery signal is a warning of increasing significance in today's mobile world, charging stations can be an oasis for power-thirsty attendees. Over the past several years, such stations have debuted in places like airports and shopping malls.

More recently, the Hellenistically named Automated Charging Machines -- Achilles, Athena and Troy -- from New York City-based Hercules Networks (hercules, have begun to appear at convention centers. These ingenious machines can charge multiple devices, including cell phones, PDAs and iPods, simultaneously (the Athena can handle up to 18 different gizmos at a time) in only 10 minutes.

More than just juice dispensers, the charging stations also provide sponsorship opportunities, via video advertising on the stations' built-in LCD monitors or on signage underneath.

The conspicuous, six-foot-tall stations can be rented at rates beginning at $1,200 per event.