IKEA may not have won SXSW’s Innovation Award, but it’s the most accessible tech there

IKEA may not have won SXSW’s Innovation Award, but it’s the most accessible tech there

You might not think Ikea and its line of allen wrench-assembled decor are all that cutting-edge, but there’s a reason the company was nominated for SXSW‘s Innovation Awards this week.

One look at its wireless charging solutions and you wonder why these things aren’t already in every piece of furniture in your house.

Launched last summer, Ikea showcased a selection of furniture with Qi wireless charging pads built into each item. It also offers a modular pad with a cut-out template so you can add the technology to your existing furniture.

We caught up with Ikea and design firm Veryday who collaborated on the product to see just how well the tech works. Currently, the charging pads work with most new smartphones such as the Samsung Galaxy S6 and up, but it also offers phone cases with built-in Qi battery stickers to enable wireless charging. It takes about a second to register the device on the pad, and delivers charges at five watts.

While the design itself looked a bit plasticky, you can’t deny the utility especially given the price. The Selje nightstand, for example, is a $59.99 steel table with a charging pad built in. The drawer even has a hidden USB slot, and a small opening to let wires through. If you prefer to modify your own existing furniture pieces, the Jyssen pad starts at $29.99.


I asked Veryday and Ikea how else they plan to implement the technology, but the team insists that the growth will be small and gradual. “We look at our existing lineup to see where we can add the technology, in addition to new pieces we may create.”

Though Ikea did not ultimately win SXSW’s Innovation Award (the honor went to Lily, a camera drone), its wireless charging solutions should be recognized for providing tech and convenience at an accessible level. I could see many businesses, like restaurants and cafĂ©s, integrate these affordable pieces to encourage more consumer engagement time and act as conversation pieces.

Drones are fun. Earphones are cool. But maintaining a charge on our phone is a universal problem that nearly every modern human face.

Read next: Spotify to pay $21 million in unpaid royalties

Shh. Here's some distraction