What if your furniture could evolve itself to stay relevant?
Built by — oio
Oio is a creative company working on products and tools for a less-boring future. Their team of humans and machines is pushing for an impact that outweighs their footprint, helping ambitious companies to turn abstract trends and weak signals into tangible opportunities - big and small, often firsts of their kind.
Updatables are a new family of furniture and accompanying application that would give agency and personality to traditionally inanimate objects, letting them inform you when they’re in need of repair or improvement. Instead of sitting silently in the corner, the application would allow your furniture to tell you how it could be improved or customised by using extra parts from IKEA furniture. By helping you to understand the ways in which you can extend the life of your furniture, Updatables would reduce waste and encourage circularity.
'By giving agency to an object, we start to share its point of view and unlock a new type of relationship with it – one where nurturing it might allow it to become something else.'
You would begin by scanning a room with the application to connect with a piece of furniture. Using AI, the application would give it a voice, enabling it to speak out about its needs and communicate directly with you. Augmented Reality technology would then allow you to visualise a range of possible directions to take when updating it, helping you choose the one that’s right for you.
For example, to encourage you to sit down with a book more often, a neglected armchair could ask for additional storage space or a reading lamp attachment. By visualising the different options, Updatables would spark moments of unexpected interaction, creating a new kind of playful connection with household items and encouraging more circular living.
'We’re creating a world where chairs and tables evolve like they’re living species, except in this case, rather than survival, sustainability is the main driving force.'
Updatables aren’t just simple combinations of materials but fully-fledged evolutions of existing IKEA furniture. The application would make use of an evolutionary algorithm–a piece of machine learning code inspired by biological evolution–to generate new elements, adding and swapping different IKEA parts for entirely novel combinations. Over time, your furniture would continuously develop in unexpected ways, modifying further with each ‘generation’ and making every Updatable unique, with its own name, story, and family tree.
'Unfortunately, many objects today are more easily disposed of and replaced than upgraded or downcycled; however, we think Updatables can help inspire people to reduce this waste by giving objects a renewed purpose.'
As life at home changes, so do our needs. By actively guiding the evolution of your furniture, Updatables would allow you to ensure that things stay relevant over time, reducing the need to throw them away. Because the application makes use of extra IKEA parts, each minor customisation could give your items a new lease of life, saving materials and having fun in the process.
With Updatables, when the time finally comes to discard a piece of furniture, it wouldn’t need to go to waste. Instead, its parts could enter the circular ecosystem where others could collect them for their own modifications. By connecting with people in this way and increasing the circularity of these items, sustainability would only increase. 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.