Smart furniture: how technology is redefining “home”
A desk that drops from the ceiling at the press of a button. Side tables with integrated air purifiers. Mattresses that can track sleep patterns and allow users to customize firmness levels.
These are just a few examples of smart furniture, with built-in technology not found in the average table, desk, bed or chair. Equipped with smart sensors and systems, smart furniture can be controlled and adjusted according to personal preferences.
The smart furniture industry is relatively new, said freelance tech journalist and author Marc Saltzman. While he predicts the industry will continue to grow, Saltzman said he’s not yet sure if smart furniture sales are part of a larger consumer trend.
“I don’t know if smart furniture will play a significant role [in the market] until we see what it really offers,” Saltzman told CTVNews.ca in a June 12 phone interview. [on the market] Again.”
Smart furniture technology is an extension of the smart home trend that has become particularly popular over the past two years since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Saltzman said.
According to data compiled by the International Data Corporation, the global market for smart home devices grew by 11.7% in 2021 compared to the previous year. The company’s Worldwide Quarterly Smart Home Device Tracker shows that more than 895 million smart home devices were shipped worldwide in 2021 alone.
“Because of the pandemic, people were spending more time at home, so they were investing a little more in their homes, and they’re clearly seeing the benefits of smart technology,” Saltzman said.
THE FUTURE OF SMART HOME PRODUCTS
Smart furniture is especially useful for those who want more versatility in their living spaces, said Man Leung, marketing manager at Gryphon Development. The Vancouver-based company runs a project called Gryphon Nova, which involves using smart furniture and other tech features to help users multitask and save time, he said.
“We look at the spaces that residents spend a lot [of time in] like the living room and bedrooms, and we’re still thinking about how to use that space creatively and provide more flexibility for residents,” Leung told CTVNews.ca in a June 8 phone interview.
The company’s smart furniture system involves the use of a retractable queen-size bed, a desk and a storage container that can each be lowered from the ceiling with the push of a button via a smartphone app. When furniture is not needed, it is possible to raise it up into the ceiling and use the empty space for something else, like exercising.
Pictured is a pull-down queen-size bed and desk made by Gryphon Development, one of many smart pieces of furniture included in its Gryphon Nova project. (Gryphon Development)
The idea behind the project is to provide a more holistic form of technologically advanced living that better reflects the definition of “home” today, Leung said. Stay-at-home measures previously put in place as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic have made it more important for families to have space to live and work at home. This can be done by making rooms more adaptable to different needs, Leung said, such as designing a bedroom that can convert into a workout spot or an office space that can double as a place to eat.
“People are looking for a space that could satisfy their different needs in daily life,” Leung said. “There’s so much more they want to do in their homes now… The definition of home has been taken to a different level.”
Currently, only 43 units of the company’s smart furniture system built by Gryphon Development will be available, priced from approximately $785,000 to $2.175 million. The company has already signed contracts with several customers and the project is expected to be completed by 2025. In addition to smart furniture, these units will be equipped with a number of other features, such as a water filtration system. built-in water bottle and a shelf. which uses UV light to sanitize devices such as phones, wallets and keys. Leung said there has been tremendous interest in home automation and he sees the use of smart furniture becoming more common in the future.
“This holistic lifestyle is definitely something that will appeal to potential buyers,” he said.
A retractable storage unit made by Gryphon Development is seen here. It’s one of many smart pieces of furniture included in the company’s Gryphon Nova project. (Gryphon Development)
Besides the smart furniture systems produced by Gryphon Development, individual smart furniture can also be purchased at several stores, including Best Buy and Ikea.
Ikea first developed smart home products in 2015 with the manufacture of wireless charging furniture, according to Mathias Karlsson, director of Ikea Canada’s Home Smart Initiative. This project involves using an app to control a wide range of Ikea products, allowing users to raise blinds or turn lights on and off. The company’s smart home furniture collection now includes speakers that double as shelves and tables that include air purifiers.
“Overall, incorporating smart home products into your space is simply about living more efficiently and being more connected to our spaces,” reads a statement from Karlsson sent to CTVNews.ca on June 13. space and blend into people’s homes, making your home life a little easier, more efficient and more comfortable.
According to Karlsson, Ikea has seen growing interest in its line of smart home products over the past two years. Over the next five years, the company expects the smart furniture market to double.
Pictured is Ikea’s STARKVIND table with a built-in air purifier. It is one of many products in the company’s collection of smart products. (IKEA, IKEA.ca)
Looking at initiatives such as Gryphon Nova, Saltzman said these types of projects could be especially useful for those with limited space at home.
“It’s smart for small living spaces, for example, condos in the GTA,” Saltzman said. “It looks like it could be a smart use of your space.”
Still, consumers should keep in mind that these are newer technologies and may require more maintenance than regular furniture, he said. Plus, those aiming to be early adopters of new technologies are likely to pay extra, he said.
“There will always be a market for early adopters, just be aware that you tend to pay more and…the experience may not be as smooth as some technologies that have been around for several years,” Saltzman said. “They often iron out bugs, so to speak.”
When navigating the smart furniture space, Saltzman said consumers should start by weighing the pros and cons of smart versus non-smart furniture. This involves comparing prices to determine if additional costs are worth the extra money. Saltzman also advises consumers to compare smart furniture from different brands to find the best possible price.
“Having a choice is always ideal. So seek [and] research competitors and read reviews, not only from technical experts, but also from former customers,” he said.
Saltzman also recommends consumers contact the companies with any questions they may have and think carefully about the benefits associated with smart furniture before making a purchase. Some of the main benefits of smart furniture and smart home technology come down to what he calls the four Cs: cost, convenience, control and connection.
Smart thermostats, for example, can be used to tightly regulate temperatures inside a home and can be easily controlled using a smartphone. The data also showed that smart thermometers can save on both heating consumption and cooling use, which can translate into savings on the electricity bill.
“Just because it uses electricity doesn’t mean it’s smart — it has to do something unique,” Saltzman said. “What does a smart bed do that my existing bed doesn’t?”
“There has to be a clear value proposition.”