## The Thrifty Innovator: How IKEA Became a USB-C Powerhouse and Smart Home Hero

IKEA has long been synonymous with affordable, stylish and practical home furnishings, but the truth is that the Swedish giant is about a whole lot more than bookcases and meatballs. With the arrival of a host of USB-C accessories, and particularly encouraging developments regarding a bespoke smart home range, it’s clear the firm is determined not to miss out on any of the digital action.

### IKEA's Love Affair with USB-C

Changes like this were possible after Apple launched the iPhone 15 (the first to adopt the USB-C standard) as late as last year. It didn’t take IKEA long to follow suit, expanding its assortment of USB-C charging accessories with the Sjöss USB-C charger, which now has some vibrant USB-C cables to go with it, and the multi-socket Skotat extension cable, which is currently available in the EU and will hit the UK soon.

### Charging Into the Future: The Skotat and Rundhult

This extension cable is a game changer for recovering home power hogs like myself, as its triangular profile makes it effortless to mount on the wall with three AC ports and two USB-C ports all accessible on the end. With its 10ft length, it’s perfect for any home that needs another power outlet. And in addition to all that, there’s my Rundhult braided 100W USB-C to USB-C cable, perfect for your work from home warriors, with its sleek styling and fat profile.

### A Splash of Color with Lillhult

Taking personalisation a bit further, IKEA also made the cables in the Lillhult range available in various colours. These cables not only have slack and a modest speed (250 bits per second) but collectively reflect IKEA’s first attempt at accessory innovation as an interplay between function and style that might appeal to many style-conscious tech users.

### Priced to Please

Perhaps not surprisingly – given Ikea’s raison d’être – its offering holds no great surprises on the pricing front, but this approach is, on the whole, consistent with the retailer’s ethos of cost-effective and functional living. Though there are already affordable tech-accessory upstarts on the market (most notably Anker), Ikea’s Sjöss chargers, Lillhult cables and galore, if sold through its existing market halls, present an enticing prospect for the Ikea shopper.

### Beyond Cables: IKEA's Smart Home Ambitions

Beyond cables, IKEA is quietly growing its presence in the smart home sector as well. A pilot of a new smart home app in Sweden hints at IKEA looking to help consumers better manage their power usage. The company also launched a series of smart home sensors last February, which detect water leaks or motions, along with the Dirigera smart home hub last fall. The latter is a small control unit that plugs directly into a router or power outlet – expanding IKEA’s ambitions in the smart home sector.

### The Future Looks Bright (and Smart)

For now, though, IKEA’s mix of affordable tech add-ons and forays into smart home technology tells a powerful tale of a classic home furnishings retailer fighting back against the future, digital style. Whether the smart home adventure pans out for IKEA or not, one thing seems clear: IKEA will keep on the side of standards such as Matter, and will keep trying to get more woven into our connected homes.

### About Home

After all, home is not just a place but a setting, a life, a place of memories and warmth. As our lives become technologised, so does the concept of home. IKEA’s attempt to integrate affordable, practical tech solutions within its vast catalogue of homewares betrays a sense that the modern home is not just a house filled with furniture and little knick-knacks. It is a hub, a source of connection, comfort and convenience, a living, breathing shell that is always adapting to the technologies of both our lives and ourselves.

in reality, by now offering USB-C accessories and smart home tech, IKEA isn’t just filling our homes: it’s mediating what the home of the future looks like. It is negotiating such a swiftly evolving landscape for home goods because it is adaptable, perhaps more than we often acknowledge.

Jun 15, 2024
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