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IKEA?s powered furniture line gives mobile users a charge

IKEA is bringing out a line of furniture with built-in wireless chargers to increase convenience for connected consumers who weary of looking for a charger and the attendant charging-cable mess.

The Swedish furniture manufacturer is leveraging Wireless Power Consortium?s Qi standard for inductive electrical power transfer over distances in tables, desks, lamps and other accessories that are part of a Home Smart line, committed to products that make living at home easier. The products? launch on the sidelines of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, points to how mobile has moved from a novelty to a necessity as global smartphone penetration deepens. 

?[IKEA] sees cable mess and the need to charge multiple mobile devices as a big problem in homes around the world,? said John Perzow, vice president of market development for the Wireless Power Consortium, Piscataway, NJ. ?This new line of products address those problems.
 
?Mobile devices have become the hub of our connected lives,? he said. ?They are becoming ever more central in how we stay in touch, get our news and connect with our environment.?

Global rollout
IKEA said the wireless charging home furnishings will be available in Europe and North America this April, followed by a global rollout. 

Charging phones (right) is simple and easy.

Using the furniture to charge phones, tablets and other mobile devices is simple and easy. The user places his or her phone on the charging area, which is marked by a plus sign built into the furniture. The phone then charges on the spot.

?No mess, no plugging in wires or looking for an outlet, carrying a AC adaptor,? Mr. Perzow said.

The caveat is that the phone must be Qi-enabled. About 80 models of phones either have Qi built in or are Qi-enabled with an accessory from the manufacturer, such as a case or card that fits between the battery and back cover of the phone, Mr. Perzow said. 

Samsung?s newly unveiled flagship Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge comes with Qi built in, joining the Motorola Droid and Droid Turbo.

Google and Nokia phones also have built-in Qi. ?Only about 12 percent of consumers know that this feature is available,? Mr. Perzow said.

The IKEA and Samsung announcements may boost awareness of the Qi charger in an increasingly connected world.

?For example, I use my phone as a TV remote control, to access my home thermostat, control my home lighting and unlock my door,? Mr. Perzow said.

?Combine that with the need for 100 percent reliable communications ? emergency communications, for example ? and it?s easy to see why it?s more important than ever to know that your phone is charged and ready for whatever you need it to do.?

Including wireless charging is a way for brands to offer conveniences that have become essential customer needs. 

General Motors? Cadillac brand, for instance, added wireless charging of smartphones in dashboards of the 2015 ATS coupe and sedan, eliminating the need for on-board charge cords.

Cadillac added the feature via Powermat, a Duracell-backed technology, which lets the phone recharge through an electromagnetic field while it sits on a rubber pad behind the car?s center instrument panel faceplate. 

Offering the feature allows Cadillac to target car shoppers seeking out high-tech convenience features who also typically charge their phones at least once a day.

Qi is available in 3,000 hotels, restaurants, airports and public locations worldwide. More than 80 Qi-enabled smartphones, 15 models of Qi-enabled cars and countless Qi mobile accessories now are in the market.

Global standard
?Qi is the global standard for wireless charging and mainstream adoption is accelerating,? Mr. Perzow said.

IKEA app.

 ?There are over 50 million units shipped, and over 200 companies such as HTC, IKEA, LG, Motorola, Panasonic, Samsung, Sony and Verizon support Qi with their membership in the Wirelesss Power Consortium. 

?Hotels like Marriott, airports like JFK and Newark, restaurants like McDonalds are installing Qi wireless charging so their customers can easily charge their phone,? he said. ?Qi also is built into the Toyota?s Avalon and Camry cars and the Jeep Cherokee SUV.?

Final Take
Michael Barris is staff reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York