If the hexagonal components of this weird modern sofa-scape look like video game elements to you, that’s no mistake. The Lift-Bit is billed as the world’s first ‘digitally-transformable sofa,’ with height-adjustable, individual stool-like modules that connect into a larger lounge creation of your choice. Envisioned as part of the Internet of Things (IoT), a network of physical objects embedded with electronics, sensors, software and wifi connectivity, the Lift-Bit aims to “radically define a new living experience.”
Each of those hexagonal stools is motorized with a linear actuator so it can be raised or lowered. But this isn’t a puzzle you have to physically solve, surrounding yourself with a room full of stools, individually calibrating each one until you find a configuration you like. The process of creating your very own highly customized lounge space is updated for the smart home era, using a tablet app to control each one remotely. You can double or halve the height of each stool in seconds.
In fact, playing around with the possibilities on the app might be just as entertaining as using the physical furniture, and that’s kind of the point. The project explores the degree to which technology may become embedded in the objects that surround us every day, wherein a phone is no longer just a phone, your window shades and lights can be programmed to automatically welcome you home when you enter, and your couch can become a bed, chaise, table or just a chaotic arrangement of surfaces according to your whims.
Want to try it out? The Lift Bit website has a test configurator that lets you play around with any number of modules. Add them manually or choose from options like ‘simple chair,’ ‘ziggurat sofa,’ ‘chatting sofa,’ ‘lounge bar’ and ‘disco sofa.’ You can then hit a button to fill the room, make a hill, make a valley or make a wave, and the stools will all automatically adjust in height.
But the connectivity factor doesn’t stop with sensors, apps and shapeshifting on command. The Lift-Bit system is independent to a degree that might make smart home paranoiacs feel panicky about a Skynet-style AI takeover. When it’s ‘bored,’ the modules will shift their shape all on their own, changing configurations without any input from the users. Hopefully, that only happens when there’s nobody sitting on it.
Currently being prepared for mass production by Makr Shakr Srl, the system is available for pre-order through a deposit for the chosen number of modules, with the final price to be calculated once engineering is complete.
The ‘Internet of Things’ has been the focus of some criticism, not just for dystopian surveillance fears of tech-embedded objects turning on humans or observing us without our permission, but for simply being too complicated. In 2016, most homes still don’t have more than one or two smart home gadgets, let alone an entire connected system of them, partially because all of the different manufacturers aren’t producing products that can work together. A true smart home requires seamless interaction between all those high-tech components, and we’re still years away from that happening.
Furniture-gadget hybrids like the Lift-Bit definitely offer more ‘cool factor’ than convenience, and they’re definitely more advanced than what most people want in their homes, but it’s easy to imagine the system scoring a cameo in a futuristic film.