Wireless charging is officially starting to take off. With the new Apple Watch, the world’s biggest gadget maker supports the technology; so does Ikea, which has released a furniture line that also doubles as wireless chargers. But what few designers are considering is how wireless charging can change the way we interact with gadgets, and with each other.
Designed by Mayela Mujica, a graduate student pursuing her MFA at the Rhode Island School of Design, the Illume lamp only turns on when two smartphones have been placed on the base to wirelessly charge, giving off what Mujica describes as a “soft light [to] facilitate uninterrupted conversation.” Constructed out of cypress, glass, and nickel-plated brass, it might just be the smartest take on how wireless charging could be integrated into furniture.
It’s a simple interaction, but a moving, almost symbolic one. All too often in our always-connected lives, couples come home from work to spend the next few hours looking at their phones as they are plugged into the wall. But to make this light turn on, both you and your partner need to put down your phones. The Illume shows how wireless charging can be leveraged as not just a control mechanism, but as a way to bring two people closer.
The Illume is currently a student project, so sadly, you can’t buy one. But personally, I’m far more captivated by this approach to integrated wireless charging than what Ikea is doing. Maybe when she graduates in 2016, the Swedish furniture maker can give her a job.