BARCELONA—Swedish furniture maker Ikea International A/S unveiled a new range of furniture that it says can wirelessly charge some mobile devices. The Swedish furniture giant made the announcement on Sunday at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
The collection includes tables, desks and lamps which have wireless charging pads in them. The wireless charging works through an energy induction transfer. The furniture itself needs to be connected to a power source. The collection will hit the shelves of Ikea shops in Europe and North America on April, 15, followed by a global roll-out.
Battery power is a continuing pain point for many smartphone users. With more app usage, like video and location services, wireless charging on furniture or other everyday surfaces could be a welcome innovation as batteries lose power quicker than ever before. Ikea said it will also sell wireless charging kits to build into existing furniture, with a starting price of EUR30 ($33.60). Furniture with built-in wireless charging facilities will cost EUR20 extra.
“People hate cable mess. They worry about not finding the charger and running out of power,” said Jeanette Skjelmose, Ikeas business area manager lighting and wireless charging.
Ikea’s introduction of wireless charging functionality on some of its new furniture heats up the battle for a global wireless charging standard, of which there are currently three, all struggling to become the global leader. Ikea will equip its new range of furniture with Qi-certified wireless chargers from the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC) and has also joined the organization. The Qi-standard is supported by smartphone makers like Samsung, HTC and Microsoft.
The two other standards are the Power Matters Alliance (PMA) which rolls out wireless charging facilities at Starbuck cafes in the U.S. and the Alliance for wireless power, A4WP. It’s important to have one standard because having devices that only charge on certain surfaces could limit peoples’ choice, and defeat the purpose. Gaining critical mass could be the global breakthrough for one of the three competing standards.
In the U.S., the PMA standard is strong, as the association is backed by Duracell Powermat, a supplier of wireless charging accessories. PMA has teamed up with Starbucks, rolling out wireless charging facilities in the U.S. PMA last year said it will expand into Europe in 2015.
Originally posted 2016-04-06 19:45:20.