It seems only a matter of time until wireless charging is ubiquitous, with the largest looming question more about which technologies will become most widely-used as opposed to whether wireless charging will become a Real Thing. For its part, Qi wireless charging is going to be loaded up on Ikea furniture soon.
Wireless charging makes sense in a number of scenarios and applications, from juicing up your devices at a Juice Stop to keeping things charged in your living room to IoT application. (How else will you keep that chip in that smart water bottle powered up?)
Ikea has latched onto this trend by rolling out the Ikea Wireless charging collection. Clearly, Ikea has an eye for the future of the smart home. The meatball-making furniture company will start off by putting Qi charging technology into "bedside tables, floor and table lamps, as well as desks." For now, Ikea will bake Qi into one or two design collections per year, but at some point it will try to hit closer to 10 collections annually.
"Through research and home visits, we know that people hate cable mess. They worry about not finding the charger and running out of power," said Jeanette Skjelmose, Business Area Manager Lighting and Wireless Charging.
You have to admit that it makes sense. My Ikea couch (inexpensive, sturdy, firm but comfortable, removable and machine-washable cushion covers, highly recommended), for example, is currently draped with various charging cables—usually a minimum of two or three at a time. The ability to charge all those devices simultaneously without cables would most definitely be a welcome "daily life" sort of improvement.
However, Qi presents some limitations. Your devices essentially have to be touching the charging surface; it's wireless, yes, but that doesn't mean you can sit there with your iPad on your lap and expect it to be charging up.
There are multiple promising wireless charging competitors to Qi that do offer that much-needed range. Rezence is one that specifically looks like it could make a dent in the living room, as well as longer-range solutions such as Energous' WattUp.
Ikea chose Qi because of its already-large deployment and "worldwide support." Dozens and dozens of smartphones have Qi inside, and surely more are coming all the time. However, perhaps the Swedish company should have taken a cue from Samsung and incorporated the "multiple standards, users can pick" approach.
Ikea Wireless charging collections will launch first in Europe and North America in April 2015, but it will be coming worldwide at some point thereafter.