Livingscape

Trend research: Phygital House -
Instant Need Design

TrendLab_Phygital_InstantNeedDesign_00.jpg

Thanks to the use of technology and the Internet of Everything, our homes are full of devices, electrical appliances and furnishing elements capable of responding to the contingent needs of their inhabitants, almost taking on a life of their own.

Businesses and brands build automation systems into the operating systems of their products that enhance people’s daily routines, freeing them of the most repetitive chores and providing an instant response to specific needs the instant they become manifest.

In this sense, the real challenge for design and for designers is to make the interaction between people and technology within the domestic environment as easy and immediate as possible, and integrating this interaction naturally into real life.

This, for example, is what Silk Labs, the company founded in June 2015 by Andreas Gal has set out do to. Gal says: “The kind of world we imagine is that I come home and things just magically happen. I want the house to recognise me, recognise my face, turn on my lights, turn on my favourite music”. At the heart of the company’s vision is the belief that the functionality of a device should be simple, useful and customisable to user needs, rather than the other way round, making for a truly seamless domestic experience

TrendLab_Phygital_InstantNeedDesign_01.jpg

The company has come up with Silk, a customisable platform that can recognise faces, objects, sounds and movements, making home automation intuitive, conversational and built on the convergence of contextual needs, events and situations. Thus Silk acts rather like a digital brain, which controls and works in combination with a wide range of other new generation devices.

Lift-Bit marks a further step from the Internet of Things towards the Intelligence of Things. Lift-Bit is a digitally configurable seating system developed by Carlo Ratti Associati in collaboration with Vitra. It may sound futuristic, but is very much of our times: the structure of what would be reductionist to describe simply as a sofa is made up of a series of hexagonal upholstered stools that can rise up or sink down in a matter of seconds.

TrendLab_Phygital_InstantNeedDesign_02.jpg

According to the number of modules brought into play and the combination of heights, Lift-Bit can take on myriad three-dimensional configurations – chair, armchair, sofa, chaise longue or bed – as required. The system has no pre-set configurations but can take on the form of any type of furniture according to the needs and desires of its users. It can be operated in real time by arm movements above the seat, or remotely, via a smartphone and tablet application. 

TrendLab_Phygital_InstantNeedDesign_03.jpg

Thus the new technologies are endowing architecture and domestic environments with unexpected flexibility, generating a variable and constantly evolving landscape and tailoring its “traditional” static nature and “rigidity” to the contemporary thirst for immediacy and changeability.

June, a company that develops smart domestic electrical appliances, is shortly to release its June Intelligent Oven onto the market. This smart oven is the size of a microwave and has a built-in full HD video camera, multi-touch interface and Nvidia Tegra processor, commonly found in mobile devices, and is literally capable of taking over the cooking.

TrendLab_Phygital_InstantNeedDesign_04.jpg

The video camera and special sensors have been developed so as to be able to identify the food and its weight when it goes into the oven and, therefore, to suggest the appropriate cooking times (it is currently capable of recognising 15 different foods). The oven constantly monitors the temperature of the dishes and only turns itself off when each dish is perfectly cooked, guaranteeing perfect results. The oven also has WiFi connectivity, meaning that the cook status can be seen and monitored via live streaming through the dedicated smartphone app (and the settings altered remotely if required). 

TrendLab_Phygital_InstantNeedDesign_05.jpg

This latter function means that a time-lapse video of the food as it cooks can be recorded, so that its preparation and progress can be shared on social networks.

Needless to say, June functions equally well in manual mode, providing extra support for expert cooks, and can also take over from those who may be less skilled or have less time available, but have no wish to compromise on quality and gratification in the kitchen.

Imagine going to bed and, after putting your smartphone and tablet on to charge, drifting gently off to sleep soothed by agreeable white noise. Imagine waking serenely, while a mood light slowly simulates the breaking dawn and your favourite Spotify playlist tracks start to play. Meanwhile, the smell of coffee drifts in from the kitchen, bringing you fully awake. All you need do before getting up is to check the weather forecast, the traffic news, book an Uber taxi, regulate the temperature in the apartment and turn on the bathroom lights.

TrendLab_Phygital_InstantNeedDesign_06.jpg

Imagine being able to do all that before you even get out of bed. Impossible? It would appear not, thanks to the Beddi Intelligent Alarm Clock. Designed by Witti Inc., Beddi is part of the emerging category of connected devices that can activate a range of different domestic tasks, controlled by a single physical control centre rather than by different apps.