You can control this sofa with your smartphone

Nothing is safe from the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things is absolutely as general as it sounds; it’s the ever-expanding network of objects we’ve managed to connect to the internet for better or worse. Sometimes things are improved by being a part of the Internet of Things and sometimes you wonder why they were ever connected in the first place. The latest addition to the network is one even we didn’t anticipate: a sofa.

The Lift-Bit is a sofa developed by a design firm called Carlo Ratti Associati with the help of Swiss furniture manufacturer Vitra and they’re calling it “the world’s first digitally-transformable sofa.” Rather than one solid piece of furniture, the sofa is made up of a series of individual hexagonal stools which are motorised using a linear actuator. This allows them to be raised up and down to create different shapes, with the height of a stool able to be doubled or halved in a matter of seconds. This is where the smartphone comes in: you use an app to move the sofa’s parts.

Using the app you can select a form for the sofa to take from a series pre-determined shapes, or if you’re feeling more creative you can create entirely new combinations of your own. In what its creators are calling a homage to British architect Cedric Price’s 1970s “Generator Project”, the Lift-Bit will even get bored and start moving on its own if no one interacts with it for a while. How needy.

Professor Carlo Ratti, founder of Carlo Ratti Associati studio and Director of the Senseable City Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is excited by the possibilities offered by the sofa:

“Lift-Bit draws on the potential of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies to transform our interior landscape, giving form to an endlessly reconfigurable environment. In the future, we could imagine an architecture that adapts to human need, rather than the other way around – a living, tailored space that is molded to its inhabitants’ needs, characters, and desires.”

The Lift-Bit is currently being shown at Milan’s XXI Triennale, titled “21st Century. Design After Design”, within the “Rooms. Novel living concepts” exhibition. It’s not just going to be for show, though, as the sofa is currently being engineered for mass production and can even be pre-ordered. As you’d expect, it doesn’t come cheap. Available in blue, mint, red, or yellow a lounge sofa made up of 20 Lift-Bit stools costs €13,000 (£10,328). Need to take a seat after that? Sure, one stool will be €799 (£645) before shipping or taxes. Maybe we’ll just lie on the floor.

The Lift-Bit is extremely expensive, and though we sometimes scoff at the things people will attempt to connect to an app this one is an interesting exploration of the way we might one day be able to create more flexible living spaces by using technology to alter rooms to suit our needs. We can’t see one of these in our living rooms any time soon, though.


Main Image via Lift-Bit

Story via Lift-Bit