Is Smart Furniture a Wise Purchase?
Jul 13, 2017 // Furniture //

We’ve always adapted furniture to meet our needs and lifestyles. But for the most part, this has meant adjusting a few basic designs to fit the style trends of the time.

Take the coffee table, for instance. We saw solid teak tables in the 60’s, those gaudy glass-topped tables in the 80’s, and the rise of affordable MDF with those sleek, modern design sensibilities. But overall, there hasn’t been much innovation in that realm over the years.

Could it be that our basic four-legged, tried-and-true coffee tables is fine the way it is?

Of course not. Why settle for that when you could have a smart table?

With the rise of smart home technology, it was only a matter of time before we decided our furniture needs a high-tech upgrade as well. Now, companies like IKEA are blurring the lines between tech and furniture with a line of wireless charging furniture.

IKEA offers a number of furniture items with a wireless charging pad built-in, including lamps, night stands, and (of course) coffee tables. It also sells wireless charger kits you can hack into your existing furniture.

And IKEA isn’t the only contender in this space. Curvilux, born from a successful Indiegogo campaign, produced a ‘smart nightstand’ which includes a wireless charger, an integrated alarm clock, a stereo audio system, and a drawer with a digital lock. Another competitor, Fonesalesman, has a line of minimalist-style side tables sporting wireless chargers.

Wireless charging is an intriguing technology. You can’t argue with the convenience of setting your phone down on a table and coming back to find it fully-charged, no cables required.

But like all things high-tech, wireless chargers have drawbacks, and these smart tables are no exception. To start, the tech is not entirely wireless, as the furniture itself still needs to be plugged in. Since the phone needs to sit flat on the table, it’s nearly impossible to use the phone and charge it at the same time.

The biggest drawback is the time it takes to charge a phone wirelessly. Though wireless charging technology has improved since these products came out, it’s still slower than a good old-fashioned power cable. And if you bought a smart table with the slower version of the tech, you’re out of luck until you upgrade.

The other issue is the fact that wireless charging tech is still very new. It’s at the VHS-Betamax point in its life cycle, with the current standard (Qi) facing threats from competing technologies like PMA and A4WP. It’s still not clear which format will win out, and no one wants their coffee table to become obsolete in a few years.

Smart furniture is sure to grow in popularity as this technology improves. For now, your plain, study coffee table and charging cable will do just fine.

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