This April Ikea will debut a new “Home Smart” collection furniture that can wirelessly charge electronic devices. The new line includes desks, nightstands, and lamps that are integrated with Qi wireless technology. Qi, pronounced “chee,” is from the Chinese symbol meaning energy flow. Created by the Wireless Power Consortium, Qi is an interface standard that provides energy to devices through magnetic induction. Ikea’s new furniture will have embedded magnetic coils that generate an alternating electromagnetic field. Devices that are Qi-compatible contain a similar coil which picks up the field and converts the energy into current which charges the device’s battery.
Sounds pretty perfect, right? However, there are several drawbacks. First, wireless charging isn’t ideal because it can overheat devices. Second, a environmental groups have raised concerns about what will happen when Ikea furniture—which is better known for affordability than longevity—is thrown out. Finally, the wireless home furnishings only work with Qi-friendly electronics, so many popular devices won’t even work with the high-tech desks. Ikea plans to sell charging covers for incompatible products such as iPhones and some Samsung models. The biggest concern for consumers is the same as with all Ikea furniture—how difficult is it to assemble?