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Smart products and services are changing our living habits. They solve problems, and they simplify routines. And now additional waves of transformation – which draw smart products and application software closer to traditional furniture manufacture as part of our living environment – are on the way, and will be on display at a range of furniture trade shows this spring.

If we take multi-functionality as an example, the overlap becomes particularly apparent. Consumers want to have high levels of comfort and flexibility in their living environments. In the competition to stand out from each other, furniture manufacturers are pushing the current boundaries of use, whether of chairs, sofas or storage furniture.

The innovative sofa „Liv“ by Rolf Benz can be ordered in a number of different configurations. The system can be expanded to include shelves with space for storage. A similar piece is the “Wood” sofa by Softline. With a wooden frame that runs around the back and sides, as well as as individually moveable seat cushions, this is a piece that inspires all-day use: as a place to relax, for work, for eating and for communicating.

The introduction of digital features adds practical and aesthetic value to furniture. The “Origins” bed range from Schramm includes an integrated illumination system called „Change Daylight“, which allows the use of various app-controlled light scenarios to facilitate falling asleep and having an undisturbed night’s rest.

Smart living: living concepts for greater comfort

Traditional smart living concepts are changing all the time to meet user needs in the areas of safety, comfort and smart usability. Home automation solutions combine technical features such as heating and ventilation, lighting, shading, blind controls, door communication and multimedia.

Consumer desires are also being anticipated in the kitchen by smart helpers: the „Aura 4.0“ extractor hood from Miele combines custom light colours with air humidity regulation and selectable room scents. Depending on the cook’s current preference, the Aura 4.0 can transport him or her to a French bakery, or fill the air with the scent of orange blossoms or mint. A sensor controls when the humidity captured during cooking is introduced back into the room.

“Aura 4.0” © Miele

Intelligent solutions for the urban living room

At imm cologne 2020, the special exhibition “let’s be smart” stimulated discussion around possible future scenarios for the smart home and office. The solutions featured in the Smart Loft are designed to address urban living needs.  It offers to support a cosmopolitan, pleasure-oriented lifestyle.

An example: a zoom-like retractable sauna integrated into an Interlübke wardrobe. According to Philipp Schramm, managing director of Interlübke, incorporating individual, “non-smart” products into the network has the potential to make our day-to-day lives easier: “As in the case of the Klafs sauna, our solutions are able to serve as a perfect (analogue) container for smart products, and can therefore provide realistic applications for them. Considering the ever-increasing cost of living spaces, integrated smart solutions are gaining in importance.”

Big innovations for small spaces

Innovations are particularly relevant for so-called “tiny houses”, designed to enable their inhabitants to live out their desire for a more sustainable lifestyle pared down to the essentials. The key idea here is vertical usage of space.

The floating desk by Floating Office can be hoisted up to the ceiling on cables.  The wing-shaped desktop, which provides space for an integrated power supply and motor, shows that smart applications have been an intrinsic part of this product’s design process right from the very start. A foldaway tap by Naber can be stowed away inside the sink. And in the blink of an eye, the sink can be covered with a wooden board so that it can be used as a work surface.

User-centred products for every phase of life

Many smart applications are designed to address age-specific needs. The term “Ambient Assisted Living” (AAL) encompasses concepts and products with easy-to-use and easy-to-understand applications.

A digital mirror from Mues-Tec can be adjusted to meet the user’s needs via an individually configurable dashboard or by voice command. Rotpunkt has developed a height-adjustable kitchen unit which works wonderfully for wheelchair-bound individuals. The „MS 2100“ massage chair from Medisana features an integrated body scanner that measures the anatomy of the user’s body, as well as airbags that provide massage and relaxation for the muscles. The MS 2100 also provides heat therapy for the legs, knees and lumbar spine.

„MS 2100“ © Medisana

New approaches pushing industry boundaries

In the world of the smart home, the boundaries between industries and companies are fluid. Co-operations spanning entire processes are enabling the development of novel solutions. Smart products and data-driven services are changing the way we live. Intelligent, networked structures are creating freedom to think in new ways.

A visionary example: the Bio-Hybrid bicycle by Schaeffler. This four-wheeled, roof-enclosed vehicle combines muscle power with an electric motor. With a load capacity of about 200 kilograms, the Bio-Hybrid provides space for two people and is ideally suited to urban transport. The batteries can be charged using electricity from renewable energy sources. And how about electricity from the energy company Rheinenergie, generated by solar roof tiles from Nelskamp? The tiles are even suitable for use on listed buildings.

Bio-Hybrid Passenger © Schaeffler

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