IKEA Robotics: An Exploration Of Dynamic Architecture

Too tired to pull up a chair? One day, that chair may come to you.

“IKEA Robotics,” developed by NYU ITP student Adam Lassy, is a conceptual study on changing environments using Ikea furniture. For the ITP spring show, Lassy modified an IKEA table and chair to create mobile, wireless robots that can reconfigure an interior space in response to people in the room.

“The project began as an exploration of dynamic architecture,” says Lassy, but evolved into a study of how it would feel to have furniture in our homes that had it’s own life. I’m very interested in this idea of networked objects, things in your home that use an internet connection in new ways rather than a laptop as a person’s sole interface.”

Lassy also admits that being an 80s child spurred a lifelong fascination with a future filled with servile, household robots.

He chose IKEA because of its “somewhat culture-less design,” its sturdy engineering and cheap cost. “It is somewhat valueless after a person is done using it,” he says, “So I have no qualms with cutting it apart and shoving a bunch of electronics into it.”  The hollow structure of many of the pieces make Ikea furniture very amenable to structural modification.

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Lassy has performed various interaction tests using an overhead camera to track people in a room and move furniture towards and around them as well as using attached proximity sensors and single button inputs on the furniture to react to user presence.

Lassy imagines an entirely robotic, reconfigurable living space based on the way the person wants to use the space whether for eating, entertaining or working. Lassy continues to update the software to make the furniture’s interaction with people more robust and process oriented and in the future the space could be controlled using traditional interfaces like an iPhone or audible voice commands.

IKEA Robotics

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