IKEA launches “digital experiments” to rethink everyday home life

Using AI, machine learning and ‘spatial intelligence’ technology, the design platform seeks to change how we interact with the spaces we live in.

A series of digital experiments has been launched by IKEA in a bid to rethink our relationships with the spaces we live in.

The web-based platform EverydayExperiments.com gathers technology and design studios to showcase a series of experiments. The experiments are organised by theme: design, perception, control, capture of play. Each of theme uses different technology from virtual reality (VR) to augmented reality (AR) to ‘spatial intelligence’ software.

The project is the result of Ikea’s research and design lab Space10. The lab, through a variety of collaborations, aims to “design innovative solutions for tomorrow”.

Space10 creative director Bas van de Poel says: “Home – especially these days – plays an important role in how we develop our everyday interactions and relationships. We believe, the more we learn about the next curve of design and tehcnological innovations, the more we can help people to make tomorrow’s life at home, and with each other, even better.”

Can we “democratise” the design process?

International design studio Bakken & Bæck has created Techno Carpenter which uses AR to reimagine the furniture-making process. The platform creates a VR environment in which you could shape your own chair, using just your hands. “A piece of furniture should be easy to be used, reused and repurposed based on the materials and components,” Bakken & Bæck says.

It would, the studio says, “democratise” the design process, as each movement of the palm and finger is “interpreted” by the platform and translated into a chair. The relationship blurs the boundary between the maker and furniture, as after a while the computer starts to “recognise” body language. According to the studio, this is where the “co-creation between humans and algorithms begins to emerge”.

The possiblities of AR

AR is widespread among the projects, and suggests new ways in which the technology could be implemented in the design industry. Amsterdam-based studio Random has created Point and Repair which seeks to help people “upcycle” our belongings. Different solutions would be suggested depending on different damage, from a table that’s been scribbled on to a broken lamp.

It does this by providing people with “three-dimensional visual support” to help them understand an object better. To help people fix a wobbly closet, for example, the platform would display where all the nuts and bolts are directly on the object. This could have knock-on effects for sustainability, as it may lead to longer lives for household products.

The AR elephant in the room

Other projects are more playful, such as Fort Builder. It’s been created by Field, a studio based in London and Berlin. The prototype uses AR to stack furniture into different configurations and has two aims: to “demystify” the technology involved and encourage people to think about their domestic settings and “reimagine” everyday objects.

Extreme Measures, another project from Field, is more conceptual still. Using AR, the speculative design prototype aims to show the possibilities of space by placing ‘elephants’ in people’s homes. The animations fill out spaces – such as the areas underneath beds, or the cupboards underneath stairs – with abstract shapes that take the form of elephants.

“The metaphorical ‘elephant in the room’ or something we’re trying to ignore, is subverted into a way of seeing potential, of sensing space intuitively, non-metrically,” the studio says.

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