Date:5 May 2017
The Swedish furniture manufacturer, Ikea could be embedding its furniture with AI tech.
The company’s Denmark-bound innovation lab, Space10 is currently surveying people worldwide to establish what customers would like to see in a potential virtual assistant for smart furniture. Space10 described the survey as being “playful research” rather than a study project, but they do probe at your basic beliefs. Questions include how human-like we prefer virtual assistants or how gender specific they should be.
The survey data’s findings are updated frequently. Since we are not anywhere near an Ikea store survey voting booth, you could just go online to participate. If anything this survey is an important conversation that needs to happen between the consumer, creator and technology we want in our homes.
So far, people prefer AI that appears to be human, with male gender features, reflecting their world views and should be able to read their emotions. People broadly prefer an AI that is motherly and protective rather than purely obedient or more autonomous and challenging.
Ikea isn’t in the AI business itself, but it has been making technology enabled furniture such as wireless charging built-in coffee tables, LED light panels as well as a futuristic smart kitchen table concept.
The company is clearly doing it’s research to stay ahead and move with the high-tech times. It’s easy to imagine future where Ikea brings design to the smart home. Perhaps the company is planning its next virtual assistant to help us manage our household better. Don’t be surprised if the next table you purchase from Ikea asks you how your day is going.