Ikea introduces phone charging furniture


The Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project recently released data stating that over half of the United States population owns a smartphone of some sort.
Many students here at University of San Diego, whether they prefer Apple, Samsung, or Nokia, own a smartphone.
These same students also face the challenges that come with owning a smartphone, including keeping it put away during class, and of course, keeping it charged throughout the day.
As more users make the switch to the smartphone, companies worldwide have attempted to respond to the growing demand for both customer convenience and smartphone battery life.
One of these giants, IKEA, chose to address not only customer convenience by releasing an app (IKEA Mobile), but also the need for a full battery by creating a brand new line of furniture.
IKEA unveiled furniture that allows users to charge their smartphone by placing it on top of a surface. Partnering with Wireless Power Consortium (WPC), the company intends to eliminate the need for a power cord and cable by instead building furniture with the power cords built inside of them.
This line of furniture would also make use of WPC’s Qi wireless technology, a device that allows for an electrical transfer to occur within four centimeters of two devices.
IKEA’s partnership with WPC allows it to build furniture that will charge a variety of smartphones, such as phones made by Microsoft, Samsung, and Verizon.
For Apple iPhone users, they will only be able to charge their phones using the furniture if their phone cases are able to accept the Qi standard. Such phone cases can be bought from numerous sellers working independently from Apple Incorporated.
One of the main concerns for the furniture line is if it can be recycled. Environmentalists are concerned about the increase in toxic material being wasted and harming the environment as a result.
Julian Kirby, the resource use campaigner at Friends of the Earth is one of these environmentalists. She spoke to BBC News about the importance of keeping the technology recyclable.
“A key principle that manufacturers of furniture with built-in wireless charging technology should consider is that the furniture is designed to be easy to disassemble for upgrade, reuse, repair or recycling,” said Kirby. “Disposable electric toothbrushes are one example of a terrible product design in those respects — it’s virtually impossible to separate out the tech from the batteries and plastic casing which means valuable and often toxic materials are dumped in landfill or burnt in incinerators.”
In spite of Kirby’s concerns, the idea of furniture that is capable of charging a person’s phone has sparked hope of a movement towards the elimination of wired chargers.
Freshman Christine May is in support of this shift toward wireless chargers.
“I trip over my charger all the time,” May said, “And am always afraid that it’ll break one of these days. At least with a table, I can just plug it in somewhere, then leave my phone on top without having to worry about plugs or tripping over them.”
However, May does concede that there are still some potential issues to be had with the furniture.
“We still have to remember that it’s sold by IKEA: You might find a great end table to charge your phone, but if it doesn’t match the rest of your furniture, you’re either going to have to accept how out of place it looks or continue using a cord charger.”
The phone charging furniture line is set to be released on April 15 in Europe and North America.