We are not really into the era of tangle-free world we were promised, but as wireless charging begins to finally take off, the fantasy is not far from reach. Wireless charging makes sense in a number of scenarios and applications, from juicing up your device at the juice shop to keeping things charged in your living room to IoT application. Recently, Ikea has latched onto this trend by rolling out the Ikea Wireless charging collection.
Clearly Ikea has an eye for the future of the smart home. Part of Ikea’s ‘Home Smart’ long term commitment, the new furniture will minimize the presence of wires in the house and will make mobile charging terminals more accessible and discreet.
The meatball-making furniture company will start off by putting Qi charging technology into ‘bedside tables, floor and table lamps, as well as desks.” For now, Ikea will bake Qi into one or two design collections per year, but at some point it will try to hit closer to 10 collections annually. Designed in Ikea’s central design hub in Almhult, Sweden, the customised furniture also include NORDMARKE charging pads that lets you charge multiple devices at the same time. Wireless charging covers for iPhone 4/5S/6 and Samsung Galaxy S3, S4, S5 will also be available.
Jeanette Skjelmose, IKEA Business Area Manager of Lighting and Wireless charging, said, ”Through research and home visits, we know that people hate cable mess. They worry about not finding the charger and running out of power. Our new innovative solutions, which integrate wireless charging into home furnishings, will make life at home simpler.”
One has to admit that it makes sense. Any couch at home, for example, would be currently draped with various charging cables—usually a minimum of two or three at a time. The ability to charge all those devices simultaneously without cables would most definitely be a welcome “daily life” sort of improvement.
In the long term there may even be apps for furniture. “I could definitely see that, we would not hesitate to look at the opportunity” he told El Reg.
Initial products include tables and lamps that can charge one device wirelessly and another through USB, and there will also be a hub device which will charge up to three devices wirelessly. Adding Qi will cost about £20. Block told us that Ikea had been waiting for the technology to mature and become affordable before starting to sell it.
However, Qi does come with few limitations. The devices have to be touching the charging surface; it’s wireless, yes, but that does not mean you can sit there with your iPad on the lap and expect it to charge up.
There are some promising wireless charging competitors to Qi that do offer that much-needed range. Rezence is one that specifically looks like it could make a dent in the living room, as well as longer-range solutions such as Energous’ WattUp.
Ikea chose Qi because of its already-large deployment and ‘world wide support.’ Dozens and dozens of smartphones have Qi inside and surely more are coming all the time. However, perhaps the Swedish company should have taken a cue from Samsung and incorporated the ‘multiple standard, users can pick’ approach.
Ikea wireless charging collection will unveil first in Europe and North America in April 2015, bu it will be coming worldwide at some point thereafter.