Artificial intelligence embedded in furniture? Ikea is considering
May 9, 2017 | 12:34 pm CDT

COPENHAGEN, Denmark – Swedish furniture giant Ikea’s Denmark-based innovation lab Space10 is currently surveying people about what they would wish to see in a hypothetical virtual assistant. Ikea may be considering embedding its furniture with artificial intelligence (AI) in the future.

“We know AI is coming and we know there are tremendous opportunities in this area to create a better service for people around the world,” said Göran Nilsson, Ikea’s head of concept innovation, in a blog post. “Ikea could accommodate people’s individual needs as well as empower the 285 million people who are visually impaired using AI and conversational interfaces. We are curious to hear from the many people how they feel about AI.”
The questions in the survey Do You Speak Human? are to determine what people would like to see in the AI. The survey hopes to discover how people would like their AI to behave. Should it be humanlike or robotic? Should it be male, female, or gender neutral?
If the AI were in charge of your home, should it make decisions for you? Should it fulfill your needs before you ask? Should it prevent you from making mistakes? 
More questions include: Would you like your AI to reflect your values and worldview? Would you like it to detect and react to your emotions? Would you like it to follow the same religion as you?
Ikea is updating the results of the survey as it goes; so far it’s saying that 41 percent of people want their AI to be “obedient and assisting,” 42 percent want it to be “gender neutral” (as opposed to 35 percent for male, 24 percent for female), and 87 percent say they want their AI to “detect and react to emotions.” 

Ikea and Space10 say the goal of the research is to simply learn how people “feel about AI”. But with the company’s growing reputation for high-tech solutions, like wireless charging tables and smart lights, it wouldn’t be surprising to see AI in Ikea furniture in the future.

Take the survey here.


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Robert Dalheim

Robert Dalheim is an editor at the Woodworking Network. Along with publishing online news articles, he writes feature stories for the FDMC print publication. He can be reached at