MILAN, Italy -- Design and innovation office Carlo Ratti Associati, together with Milanese fab lab Opendot, have introduced Lift-Bit, a shape-shifting sofa with embedded motion-tracking sensors that can be reconfigured remotely via an app. The new design was shown at Milan Design Week.

Lift-Bit is a modular, digitally reconfigurable furniture system that allows a sofa to turn into a chair, a bed, a lounge room, and other configurations. The system involves a collection of individual, upholstered stools that can be assembled together.

Unveiled as a prototype at the Milan Triennale in 2016, Lift-Bit officially debuted at Opendot space in a ready-for-production version, featuring sleek new legs in birch wood. For the first time, visitors were able to control Lift-Bit directly, shifting the individual stools’ height in any desired configuration, either with a hand gesture, or remotely through the use of Lift-Bit’s mobile app.

The Lift-Bit app includes both a series of predetermined three-dimensional shapes and a tool to invent dynamic combinations. The seats’ soft texture embeds a capacitive control system, allowing each stool to sense the presence of a person’s hand close to it and start moving accordingly. By matching these technological elements with an elegant design, Lift-Bit makes it possible to reconfigure any or home or office setting, ushering in a new vision of interior design.

“Lift-Bit draws on the potential of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies to transform our interior landscape”, says professor Carlo Ratti, founder of Carlo Ratti Associati studio and Director of the Senseable City Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT): “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.”

“Lift-Bit gives people the possibility to actively contribute to the design of their own space. It is a participatory design, which never ceases to surprise you, and it surely cannot bore you”, says Alessandro Masserdotti, co- founder of Opendot, the Milan-based fab lab which contributed to the engineering of Lift-Bit.

An early version of Lift-Bit, developed with the support of the Swiss manufacturer Vitra, was exhibited in Spring 2016 at the “Rooms. Novel Living Concepts” exhibition organized by Salone del Mobile Milano for the 21st Milan Triennale.

Since then, Lift-Bit has been exhibited at Linz’s Ars Electronica festival and at Weil am Rhein’s Vitra Design Museum (“Hello, Robot” exhibition, until May 2017). Lift-Bit was also a finalist in the FastCo Innovation by Design Award 2016. 

Lift-Bit is currently available for pre-order by customers worldwide. See http://lift-bit.com.

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