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This invisible gadget turns any table into a wireless phone charger

A $40 device from Ikea can turn old furniture into a modern, mobile powerhouse.

This invisible gadget turns any table into a wireless phone charger
[Source Image: Ikea]

Placing your phone onto a desk and just watching it charge—no plugs or pads necessary—is amazing. But furniture with this built-in wireless charging technology is still few and far between. Wouldn’t it be nice if any table could just wirelessly charge a phone, like that beloved 1965 side table you paid way too much for?

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Well thanks to Ikea, that day has arrived. Its $40 Sjömärke is a little gadget that you can stick to the bottom of any wood or plastic table with double-sided tape. Then? That table can wirelessly charge your phone.

Are there any caveats? Oh sure, a few. You’ll need to plug the Sjömärke into an outlet to draw power, which will require you to discreetly snake the thin white cord down a table leg and to a wall. Not every table will work: you want the tabletop to be a little under an inch thick for optimal power transfer. Also note that the whole surface of the table won’t suddenly be electric after installing the Sjömärke. You’ll need to line up your phone in the right spot to charge it. (Ikea includes a transparent sticker to mark the area. I suspect your own muscle memory will do the job just as well, without having to screw up the table’s veneer, once you live with the charger for a week.)

[Photo: Ikea]
You might also be wondering, but will it work for my phone? The answer is, probably yes! Tech companies including Apple, Google, and Samsung don’t agree on much. But their major smartphones all use the same wireless charging standard, called Qi. That’s the same standard Ikea products have adopted since the company began building wireless charging furniture in 2015. Qi’s low voltage means that it will charge your phone a bit slower than actually plugging it into a wall, but that’s a small tradeoff for something that will charge your phone every single time you put it down, automatically.

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Ultimately, it would be nice if every surface just charged our phones and earbuds whenever we put things on them. But this small UX convenience would also be environmentally wasteful at the scale Ikea operates (and how many wall outlets does your house have?). The Sjömärke is a surprisingly elegant product for a box that you plug into the wall, not only because it can retrofit any beloved piece of furniture you already own, but also because it can be moved and reused if you change your home’s design. Until we get power from the air itself, the Sjömärke might be the next best thing.

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About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company who has written about design, technology, and culture for almost 15 years. His work has appeared at Gizmodo, Kotaku, PopMech, PopSci, Esquire, American Photo and Lucky Peach

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