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Furniture of the future provides all kinds of connectivity

Check out a smart nightstand, mattresses, self-driving chair and data desk incorporating state-of-the-art technology

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 November, 2016, 9:39am
UPDATED : Monday, 21 November, 2016, 9:39am

We all know about the wireless charging technology Ikea is building into some of its pieces these days, but the new breed of connected furniture will do much more than just power up your phone.

Take the clever Curvilux nightstand. This accommodating bedmate can answer calls, stream your music, set the mood lighting and charge your devices. Via the accompanying smartphone app, users can even program lighting to set up a simulated sunrise alarm clock.

Its inventors, a team of entrepreneurs from Colombia and Argentina, developed the Curvilux in response to a real problem: how to meet the electrical needs of everyone in a shared household.

“I only had one nightstand for the two of us, but it's where we had all of our devices – smartphones, tablets, speaker and lamp,” co-founder Rodrigo Morelli told Curbed “As you can imagine, it was chaos. We said, ‘We can do better’.”

With the tech features in the bag, they worked with a design firm to make the piece look “less like a gadget”, and the result is a stylish, Scandinavian-inspired product you’d be happy to take to the bedroom.

While you’re there, the SleepIQ technology embedded in the mattresses of American manufacturer Sleep Number lets you control your desired comfort level for different parts of the body via a smartphone app. During the night, the technology gathers data such as heart rate, motion and breathing, analyses it, and in the morning gives a score to rate the quality of your sleep.

The bed also connects with leading health and fitness apps – including Fitbit, Nest Learning Thermostat, MapMyRun and Withings Health Mate – to show a holistic view of how lifestyle choices may affect sleep.

From Italy comes the Lift-Bit, billed as the world’s first digitally transformable sofa. Design and innovation studio Carlo Ratti Associati is behind this invention which, realised with the support of Vitra, employs the internet-of-things (IoT) technology to alter its configuration.

In the prototype, a series of single, hexagonal stools is motorised using a linear actuator which allows every part of the piece to be raised or lowered. Controlled remotely through a tablet app, each stool can double (or halve) its height in seconds, reconfiguring the suite in myriad combinations. So the Lift-Bit can transform into a sofa, a bed, a chaise lounge, a chair – or anything you want it to be.

Australian furniture manufacturer King Furniture has also flagged that its top-end sofa, already packed with luxury features, will soon be internet-enabled as well.

As reported by, the company's King Cloud II sofa, a prototype at the moment, incorporates voice-controlled reclining via an Apple iPhone. Tell the phone's inbuilt assistant, Siri, you want to relax, and Cloud II reclines. Ask Siri to take you home and the cushion returns to its previous position.

“We see this as a part of the future of furniture,” says John Levey, the company’s head of research and development. “And by future, we mean really soon.”

And if you really can’t be bothered prising yourself off the couch to go to the kitchen, Japanese car manufacturer Nissan is working on a self-driving chair. The recently unveiled ProPILOT is more than the folding camp chair it appears to be: underneath are all the technological bells and whistles that can move you around your living room effortlessly.

Also in the making is a data desk from Opendesk, called Buro. What looks like a sleek, Scandi-designed piece of contemporary wooden furniture acts in fact more like “a personal Dropbox”, providing sync, backup and encrypted peer-to-peer file sharing.

“Buro is an experiment, our reimagining of the Victorian bureau for the 21st century, a place for the modern lady or gentleman to keep their files,” states the UK company’s blog. “We have used a Raspberry Pi running the amazing Syncthing sync software and an SSD drive to give Buro a quiet and compact file store built into the desk itself.”