Furniture company IKEA and its research and design lab Space10 have worked with creative studio Oio to create the Updatables concept furniture, which would use artificial intelligence to tell owners how it can be updated.
Users would scan the Updatables furniture using an app, which would use artificial intelligence to give the piece a voice to let its owner know its needs.
Augmented reality technology would be used to visualise how the furniture could be updated using extra parts from other pieces of IKEA furniture. For example, a simple chair could be adapted into a chair-bookshelf hybrid with an added reading light.
The conceptual idea would reduce waste, IKEA and Space10 said, as it would help people to better visualise how they could extend the life of their furniture.
"Unfortunately, many objects today are more easily disposed of and replaced than upgraded or downcycled," Oio co-founder Matteo Loglio said.
"We feel Updatables can help inspire people to reduce this waste by giving objects a renewed purpose," he added. "By also giving agency to the object, it can share its point of view and unlock a new relationship with us – one where nurturing it can allow it to become something else and grow with us."
Describing Updatables as "fully-fledged evolutions of existing IKEA furniture," Space10 said the app would use "an evolutionary algorithm – a piece of machine learning code inspired by biological evolution" to create the new furniture.
Each updated piece of furniture would be unique, with discarded parts added to a circular ecosystem from which they could be used by others for their furniture updates.
"By connecting with people in this way and increasing the circularity of these items, sustainability would only increase," Space10 said.
"Updatables imagines a future where furniture evolves together with other members of the household, creating emotional connections with objects and encouraging a more thoughtful approach towards disposal and waste."
The initiative is part of Everyday Experiments, an ongoing series by IKEA and Space10 that aims to challenge the role of technology in the home.
Space10 has previously worked with Mexican designers to showcase novel uses for local biomaterials, and it and IKEA also recently developed a series of open-source bee homes that anyone can design for free.
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