Charge your gadgets using Ikea furniture soon

Charge your gadgets using Ikea furniture soon
GO WIRELESS: Ikea Singapore will start selling furniture with built-in charging pads from October. Announced at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Sunday, the furniture will go on sale in mid-April in Europe, Britain and America

Sick of power cord tangles? Bedside tables and desks here could soon be juicing up your gadgets wirelessly.

Furniture giant Ikea Singapore said it will start selling its range of furniture with built-in charging pads from October.

The charging furniture - announced at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Sunday - will go on sale in mid-April in Europe, Britain and America.

The range includes bedside tables, and floor and table lamps, but the items on offer here and how much they cost will be finalised only later, said an Ikea Singapore spokesman.

The furniture, which needs to be plugged into a power source, is fitted with charging pads, where the devices sit.

The charging pads are based on the "Qi" wireless standard, which is backed by the Wireless Power Consortium, a global industry body whose members include Samsung, Belkin, Motorola, Panasonic and Sony, but not Apple.

So Qi-compatible handsets include the Samsung Galaxy S6 smartphone - announced on Sunday - and the Google Nexus 7 handset, but not the Apple iPhone.

Ikea will get around this by selling charging covers for incompatible iPhone and Samsung models, according to the BBC.

Wireless charging has been around since 2009, but has not taken off because there is no unified standard to cover all brands. A major competing standard to Qi is the Power Matters Alliance, backed by companies such as Starbucks, Duracell Powermat, Huawei and Lenovo.

Senior analyst Clement Teo of United States-based market research firm Forrester said that Ikea's announcement could consolidate support for Qi.

"Ikea supporting wireless charging is a significant milestone; its furniture is used in many homes," he said.

Naveen Mishra, industry principal of telecoms at market research firm Frost and Sullivan Asia-Pacific, however, noted that it was still early days.

"More phone models, as well as other devices like laptops and watches, must support wireless charging for the mass consumer to bite."

While Ikea has embraced wireless charging, other furniture-makers contacted also agreed that it was too early to support the trend. Some consumers have their doubts too.

Said businessman Harry Chew, 44: "Third-party charging covers are not approved by the handset-makers and may damage my iPhone or void its warranty should they malfunction."

itham@sph.com.sg

 


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