Ikea recently introduced a new platform from its Space10 research lab called EverydayExperiments.com, which will showcase various "experiments" using artificial intelligence, machine learning, augmented reality and spatial intelligence technology.
Through EverydayExperiments.com, the furniture retailer aims to highlight tech and design experiments and help viewers reimagine homes and spaces, according to a company press release emailed to Retail Dive.
The company has enlisted multiple designers and studios to participate, including Philip Price Hennigsen, Strømlin, Set Snail, Alonso Holmes and Timi Oyedeji, per the company statement.
Ikea has experimented with new technology for years, with initiatives that cross a large spectrum of use cases. The furniture retailer created an "Ikea Home smart" business unit in August, officially separating it into its own business entity, and its parent company, Ingka Group, also acquired a 3D and visual AI technology company, Geomagical Labs, in April.
The retailer has also incorporated technology into many of its products, including testing out smart lighting systems, a collection of sound-enabled furniture and robotic furniture for small living spaces. The retailer also tested out an app with shopping capabilities about a year ago.
"Technology is quickly becoming a vital part of the IKEA customer experience and home furnishing offer," Fredrik Axén, digital manager of the Core Business Franchise, Inter IKEA Systems B.V., said in a statement. "As we enter a new digital era, we are also exploring new ways to create a better everyday life at home, while protecting people's privacy."
While Ikea has made technological investments, so have its home improvement and decor competitors. Etsy recently introduced an AR tool for Apple device users, and Lowe's debuted an augmented video chat tool to connect its professionals to customers remotely.
As COVID-19 has forced many consumers to work from home, Ikea's announcement comes as consumer interest in home improvement and decor is growing during the pandemic. A Mastercard SpendingPulse report found that online and in-store hardware sales rose by 36.2% in May and furniture sales increased by 7.5% year over year. Meanwhile, research from Apptopia found that app downloads for stores like Home Depot, Lowe's and Menards have surged recently.
"Home — especially these days — plays an important role in how we develop our everyday interactions and relationships. It is not only the place where we live but the place where we work, teach our children and where we connect with the world digitally," Bas Van De Poel, creative director at Space10, said in a statement. "We believe, the more we learn about the next curve of design and technological innovations, the more we can help people to make tomorrow's life at home, and with each other, even better."