IKEA's Internet of Things plans imagine the networked kitchen

IKEA is hoping new 'intuitive and unobtrusive' technology will augment the kitchens of the future.

ikea lead image

You may have read about furniture retailer IKEA's plans to introduce wireless smartphone charging in some of its furniture. Its Selje nightstand includes a Qi-compatible charger, for example. Charge your phone wirelessly while you slumber, and only for $60.

Well, that's just the beginning of the future for the 315-store, 9,500-product company. IKEA's future kitchen ideas include networked devices, shelves that act as refrigerators, tabletops that cook, and instant food delivery by drone.

Future kitchen

IKEA has been displaying some of its concepts at the 2015 Milan Design Week in Italy and has opened a temporary "pop-up" shop to display its future ideas for 2025.

IKEA collaborated on the project with IDEO, a major design and consulting firm, and design students from Lund University in Sweden and Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands.


First up, the kitchen table will sense the food being placed on its surface, and although it won't automatically cook the food for you, it will tell you how to do it, including letting you know if you're missing something.

If you are, it will deliver the missing finely smoked oregano, or whatever, by drone instantaneously.

You'll also be able to charge devices by simply placing them on the table.

How: induction rings will be installed under the table's surface, making it double as a stove. A networked camera above the table recognizes objects, and a projector displays recipes. Existing tech charges phones.

Junk the fridge

Shelves should be used to store food in containers that include induction technology. The shelves will notify users when they need to consume food to prevent spoilage. 

How: induction coils would allow for cooling or heating, depending on the location of the container—pantry or stove.


Sounds good so far, but where would we be without a sustainable, ecological element to all this?

IKEA, to me, still conjures up images of disposable furniture pitched as worthy of an annual style refresh—throw the stuff out and buy it again, the company said in ads until very recently.

Well, composting is suitably sustainable. IKEA's designers think that leftover food could be processed into dry packages, called "pucks," with the squeezed-out water being used to feed indoor plants.


It isn't all gadgets in Milan, though. IKEA says it has analyzed trends and gathered the student's research to proffer some assumptions about 2025:

  • We'll be living more urban lives, which will mean that we will need to develop connections to the natural world.
  • Working from home will be the norm
  • Shopping will mean "home delivery," and global mega-systems will need to proliferate to keep costs down.

IKEA would be considered a global mega-system, as would Amazon and Google.


Now, the most keen-eyed of readers might have spotted something: IKEA isn't all that clear as to how it intends to accomplish much of this. But I think you can safely say that IoT will play, and if so, it's up to us to figure it all out. We've got until 2025.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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