The Smart Home Powered By… Ikea?

Wireless charging at Starbucks. Image courtesy of Shinya Suzuki.

Wireless charging at Starbucks. Image courtesy of Shinya Suzuki.

I own so much Ikea furniture that my apartment could be a picture in their catalog, but unfortunately none of my bazillion pieces of furniture can wirelessly charge my phone. That may change now that Ikea has announced a new commitment called Home Smart, which focuses on creating the home of the future.

The first functionality of Home Smart will be furniture that has built-in wireless phone chargers. The Swedish design company has created various lamps and bedside tables with integrated wireless chargers as well as docks that can work with existing furniture.

Wireless charging is still relatively novel, however, so don’t expect your smart phone to work as is with the chargers. There are currently two competing standards for wireless charging. The first is Power Matters Alliance, which is used by companies like Starbucks and AT&T, and the second is the World Power Consortium’s Qi charging standard, which Ikea’s furniture will be using.

Most businesses are reluctant to put wireless charging into their products until they see which charging standard catches on. Ikea is a member of the World Power Consortium, so it makes perfect sense that they are pushing for Qi.

Despite the literal power struggle, you can still retrofit your smartphone to work with the new furniture by buying a case, which Ikea will of course sell with their products. Or, if you have a Samsung Galaxy S6, there’s no need to buy a case because Samsung added both power standards to their new flagship phone.

The furniture must also be placed against near an outlet to get power to the wireless chargers, and wireless charging has been reported to be significantly slower than plugging your phone in the “old fashioned” way.

If you want one of Ikea’s affordable, sturdy, but self- (need to have wine close by while) assembling pieces of furniture, they go on sale mid-April in stores and online.

Related Reading
MIT Is Reinventing The Power Cord
The Digital Experience Is Following You To The Bathroom
What If You Could Beat The Winter Blues By Changing Your Lights?

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