The next nightstand or coffee table you buy from Ikea could also charge your cell phone and tablet. The Swedish furniture retailer announced Monday that it will be launching a new line of products capable of charging all of your devices wirelessly using the Qi wireless power standard, with the first pieces expected to be made available in Europe and North America in April, to be followed by a global rollout.
The announcement came during the Mobile World Congress (MWC) exhibition, taking place this week in Barcelona. Ikea said it would take advantage of the conference to showcase the new line of products, including the charge pad, shown above, that is designed to work on any surface.
Channeling Your Qi
Ikea chose to go with the Qi wireless standard for its charging protocol. Qi was developed by a consortium of players in the wireless market known as the Wireless Power Consortium, or WPC. The consortium, which was founded in 2008, counts major device manufacturers, including Samsung, LG and Nokia among its ranks. Samsung's latest phone, the S6, is one of the latest devices using the Qi protocol.
According to the company, Qi is the most widely available power standard. It is already being deployed in 3,000 locations, including hotels, restaurants and airports, while there are now more than 80 Qi-enabled smartphones on the market, and 15 automobile models that employ the standard.
"Our belief is that mobile phones are vital parts to people's lives at home and their desire to stay connected, and Qi addresses an unmet need to keep devices powered," said Bjorn Block, range manager for Lighting and Wireless Charging at Ikea, in a statement announcing the new technology. "As a member of WPC, we value the access to the leading and most advanced global standard for wireless charging."
The news that Ikea plans to invest heavily in producing furniture employing the Qi standard should also help give a major boost to the WPC as it seeks to foster a more expansive ecosystem of wirelessly powered devices.
Competing Power Standards
The new Ikea products will include items such as desks, bedside tables, coffee tables and lamps, with a Qi charger embedded. The pieces will be marked with an "X" symbol, where users will be able to place their devices for charging.
But Qi is not the only wireless power protocol on the market. A competing standard, called PMA, is being developed by a second consortium known as the Power Matters Alliance. Companies such as Lenovo, Huawei and Starbucks have signed up for the competing standard.
And another standard, known as WattUp, was showcased at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. According to WattUp's developer, a company called Energous, the WattUp standard is able to charge devices that are not even in contact with a charging station.
And despite the many smartphones that are compatible with the Qi standard, there are many more that are not, including Samsung models other than the S6 and the iPhone. Ikea has said it will produce its own charging covers for those devices.
Posted: 2015-03-02 @ 12:59pm PT
It makes so much more sense to spend a couple hundred dollars on a table to charge your phone rather than fifty on a charging pad. Will someone tell me why this is anything but a gimmick?