Ikea is moving forward with plans to incorporate the Internet of Things into products that range from wireless smartphone chargers in nightstands to a highly connected "Concept Kitchen 2025."
Ikea's Selje nightstand includes a Qi-compatible charger for an additional $60, Network World reported. The retailer's ideas for kitchens include networked devices, shelves that act as refrigerators, tabletops that cook, and instant food delivery by drone.
The concepts, crafted in collaboration with IDEO, a design and consulting firm, as well as design students from Lund University in Sweden and Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands, were revealed by Ikea at the 2015 Milan Design Week in Italy last month. The retailer opened a "pop-up" shop to display its prototype 2025 kitchen.
As part of Ikea's vision for 2025, the kitchen table will sense food being placed on its surface. It won't cook the food automatically, but will provide preparation instructions and report if an ingredient is missing, in which case it will be immediately delivered by drone. It will also charge devices that are placed on its surface.
These futuristic, integrative tasks are accomplished via induction rings installed under the table, enabling it to operate as a stove. A networked camera above the table will identify objects, while a projector will display recipes. The table can also charge phones using existing technology.
"The dining table has always been the heart of the kitchen, a place for preparing food, and eating it," noted the Ikea website. "But as the world changes, so will our needs. That means that the table of the future will be designed to do so much more: It's our preparation surface, hob (hearth), dining table, work bench and children's play area. Technology will play its part too, helping to make us more confident cooks, while letting less food go to waste."
Kitchen shelves will be used to store food in containers that use induction technology, notifying users when food is at risk of spoiling. The induction coils would allow for cooling or heating, depending on whether the container is located in a pantry or on a stove.
Composting will be part of the sustainability of the concept: Leftover food can be processed into dry packages called "pucks." Once squeezed out, the water from this food can be used to nourish indoor plants.
Having analyzed trends with its research and design student partners, Ikea has made several assumptions about 2025: People will be living increasingly urban lives and will thus need to develop connections to the natural world; working from home will be the norm, and shopping will mean home delivery, with global mega-systems proliferating to keep costs down. Ikea would offer one such global mega-system, along with others designed by Amazon and Google.
Ikea breaks ground in Las Vegas with new store
CES: IoT holds promise but presents challenges
Ikea late to the e-commerce game
Ikea expands e-commerce rollout
Ikea looks to brick-and-mortar to accelerate growth