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This mock Ikea catalog from the future is a blast to browse through

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Almost just in time for Back to the Future Day, I got a look at the Ikea catalog of the future — sort of. The home furnishing company has partnered with the KTH Royal Institute of Technology’s research centre, Mobile Life, to envision the ways Scandinavian design can fulfill the promise of our digitalized world. When you can connect everything, what can you do?

For one thing you can offer all sorts of subscription-based business models that consumers will probably eat up. Like the drone that monitors, tends and waters your home garden; or the bookshelf that you design yourself and can be 3D printed in your living room, then fed a steady stream of books, films, news and other content via subscription.

Looking through this mock catalog, you get a better appreciation of how connectivity can transform domestic life. It’s part of a Swedish government-funded project report called Consumer-Facing Internet of Things, in which Mobile Life, Ikea, Wireless@KTH, Ericsson and a number of others collaborated.

Some of the things I’ll order if they actually materialize as real products:

“Semi-organic “moss”-like carpet that grows slowly over your existing flooring while also producing environmental cleansing and scrubbing characteristics.” Actually, believe there are parts of our house where this is already beginning to happen, though unfortunately without the cleansing and scrubbing part. Totally weird and fascinating. Who can resist?DRONE

Bottomless bottles of shampoo and conditioner. Well, not exactly, but the subscription kit would provide an organic starter compound that re-grows and replenishes the shampoo and conditioner naturally, “through safe, secure biosynthesis and genetic regeneration.” Perfect for people like me who always knock the shampoo bottle over, or who use just too much damned shampoo.

A kitchen prep counter that provides “precise, friendly, sensible instructions for measurements, volumes, directions and lively anecdotes helping you prepare a wide range of recipes from around the world.” Kind of like having my mom hovering behind me every time I cook — minus the prying questions about my personal life. It also comes with a complete library of “Scandinavian specialties and sauces.” Hopefully there will be a button where you can reset that library from “Scandinavian” to “Italian”.

A mattress that adjusts moisture, temperature, pliability, thickness and density, “based on your preferences, ambient temperature, calendar and intimate body biometrics”. I’ll just let those last three words sink in … You may enter your inevitably hilarious comments below.

The other big thing about this is the idea of offering a way for consumers to now “‘share your life data’ to help advance the world.”

This is definitely worth checking out. You can see it here.

David Callahan

If you have questions about the project, contact Barry Brown (barry@mobilelifecentre.org) or Kristina Höök khook@kth.se)

David Callahan
David Callahan is editor for international news and media at KTH Royal Institute of Technology.

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