Ikea is adding wireless charging to its furniture, with a new line of lamps, bedside tables, and desks.
Now, unless you’re a tech geek, you might not even realize that we have the technology to charge a phone simply by placing it onto a table right now. And in fact, many smartphones even have this tech built in. It’s the dream of both consumers and interior designers, eliminating the tangle of cords that we navigate daily.
Ikea will be introducing its line of wireless charging furniture in U.K. and U.S. stores this April. Prices will start around $50. Each piece features a dimple on its surface. Assuming your phone is equipped with Wireless Qi (Ikea’s wireless charging tech of choice), it will charge automatically–you’ll see phones from Nokia, HTC, LG, and Samsung that support the Qi standard (Apple’s iPhone is the most notable phone that doesn’t). If your phone is not equipped with Wireless Qi, Ikea will sell an accessory that sits in the dimple instead, and you can plug your phone into that rather than reach for an outlet.
The line features several lamps–from an architect’s lamp to a small end table lamp with a shade to a tall standing lamp that features a sort of cafe table built in. Why lamps? I’m guessing it’s because lamps already plug in, whereas it may look too silly to stick your phone on your couch. It also features a relatively innocuous-looking white end table. Ikea’s existing Micke and Stuva desks will see wireless charging updates, too.
One problem: As The Verge points out, there’s not one wireless charging technology, but two major camps. While Wireless Qi is a major standard with support in many smartphones, a competitor called PMA has signed major clients like McDonald’s and Starbucks, installing its wireless charging tech into both of those chains. Some phones can actually support both standards–the new Samsung Galaxy S6 does!–but the bottom line is, neither Ikea nor anyone else’s wireless charging furniture works as reliably as a wall outlet just yet.
Still, Ikea adopting any wireless technology is important to both furniture design and industrial design. With the world’s largest furniture manufacture behind wireless charing, peers will only want to compete. It also gives companies like Apple the incentive to adopt the tech themselves. And for consumers who have Wireless Qi in their phones today, it’s nice knowing there’s a cheap end table on the horizon that will support it.