Some may call me crazy for the lengths I'd be willing to go to make the act of recharging devices feel a little bit better, design-wise. But for those of us who have decided to place our lives in the digital age, as more devices become a part of our homes, the appeal of finding a better way to power our products just keeps growing.
One of my favorite examples of a beautiful docking effort is Peter's IKEA iPhone 4 Docking Station hack, which uses a standard IKEA LACK shelf and UTBY legs, paired with some wiring and an iPhone dock insert. When I first saw it, I thought to myself, "Have we truly reached that point where something like this is necessary in the home?"
After nearly five years of working in and analyzing the home-tech space, my final answer is, "yes." Not only is it necessary, but the act of decluttering the desk from USB and miscellaneous cables is now fueling an industry on its own. Brands such as Belkin, BlueLounge, and Incase purposefully focus their brands on this problem and, in turn, have given many of us a taste of what a future filled with aesthetically pleasing experiences in living with our beloved devices could be.
The biggest issue I see with investing in such charging solutions, however, is longevity. Today, we see standards changing more often than ever from year to year. This is also part of the reason why I find it difficult to justify purchases of a device-specific alarm clock docking station or speaker dock. How can I be sure this device won't be outdated in a couple of years?
The answer is, you can't. There is no guarantee. And even though I'm more invested in my electronics than ever, my willingness to hold on to them has never been less than it is now. Once a new device comes out, my immediate reaction is to dump all my old accessories to match the new standards. I find this somewhat backwards at times, but alas, I must compromise.
In order to do so and thus, master the art of the dock, one must be willing to pick and choose areas in the home where the sole purpose will be to charge and to do one other thing really well — because powering should be secondary so it becomes invisible. A mere feature; a plus. True success would also mean that the dock should be able to adapt to accommodate a future device in the near term.
Next up, a DIY coat rack with power outlets.