IKEA unveils ‘upgradables’ in unique offer to extend furniture lifecycle

IKEAThe new Updatables furniture concept combines AR, AI and machine learning technologies so that the pieces themselves “suggest” updates and improvements through the addition of new IKEA pieces.

Developed by IKEA’s independent research and design lab, SPACE10, through its Everyday Experiments initiative and creative studio oio, Updatables are designed to extend the lifecycle of furniture. When a piece of furniture is to be scrapped, its individual components could enter the circular ecosystem that would present them as solutions for other customers to use in their own modifications.

Consumers would begin the process by using the app to scan a room, which would create a connection to a piece of furniture. The app would rely on AI to give the part a voice to communicate and share its specific needs with the customer. Consumers would use the app’s AR technology to visualize the design potential to upgrade their furniture.

In one example, IKEA noted that “an overlooked armchair may require additional storage or a reading lamp to encourage you to sit down with a book more often.” Updatables technology would encourage playful connections between consumers and household items while promoting a circular life.

Upgradeables are a comprehensive evolution of existing IKEA furniture. The app’s evolutionary algorithm, which is based on machine learning code inspired by biological evolution, produces new elements that illustrate updated design options achieved by adding or changing different IKEA pieces to create new combinations. The furniture would develop over time through modifications that would create a new ‘generation’, providing a unique upgradable product that features its own name and lineage.

“Unfortunately, many objects today are more easily discarded and replaced than updated or recycled,” Matteo Loglio, co-founder of oio, said in a statement. “We think Updatables can help inspire people to reduce this waste by giving objects a renewed purpose. By also giving the object agency, it can share its point of view and open up a new relationship with us – one where nurturing it can allow it to become something else and grow with us.🇧🇷

“By connecting with people in this way and increasing the circularity of the items, we believe sustainability would only increase,” said Georgina Macdonald, Lead Design Producer at SPACE10 in a statement. “Updatables imagines a future where furniture evolves along with other members of the home. This, in turn, creates emotional connections with the objects and encourages a more thoughtful approach to disposal and waste.”

IKEA has been at the forefront of the furniture industry’s push towards sustainability with its reuse initiatives, use of innovative technology and product offerings, and other brands are catching up. In October 2021, Lovesac debuted its Sactionals StealthTech Sound + Charge, which incorporates immersive surround sound for Harman Kardon and wireless device charging technology within its sectional sofas, which can be rearranged into different designs to evolve with customer tastes and ever-changing requirements.

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