MWC 2015 Ikea, having successfully branded Sweden as a country associated with family disputes and cupboards with wonky doors, has now taken on the challenge of improving how we all live through Qi wireless charging technology.
From 15 April, American and European Ikea customers will be able to buy flat-pack furniture which integrates a Qi standard wireless power mat. Other territories will follow in due course.
The decision to add the products as part of Ikea’s Home Smart Initiative has come from research which showed that families tend to have a place where they charge things – a “home hub” – and that can be the kitchen, the hall or the living room.
It’s all about furniture and the way people live their lives. Ikea isn’t looking to become a mobile phone accessory company – although there will be sleeves for backward devices like iPhones which don’t support wireless charging.
Instead, Björn Block, range manager at IKEA, told us that it’s a path to buying in more technology and integrating it with Ikea products. He gives all the credit for the technology to the Wireless Power Consortium which is behind the products.
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 The Register.
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.
Sometimes it’s a table, sometimes it’s a charger. It must be an occasional table.
Some customers may want to cut discs out of Ikea’s MDF and drop in a click-in module, which is an option.
Technical support will come from Ikea which will use the Wireless Power Consortium as second line support.
The new products are part of a long term commitment from Ikea to support the wireless power consortium standards and Ikea has undertaken to make sure that modules are upgradeable as the standards evolve. This will ensure that your Qi charger table isn’t obsolete by the time you get to the front of the check-out queue. ®