LIVINGSCAPES

Trend research: Phygital House -
Smart Objects and Augmented Design

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The smart connectivity becomes such the instant it generates concrete benefits in terms of improving quality of life between the domestic walls. This is why latest generation devices are being developed to help make the habitat around us more congenial for living, resting and working in the best possible conditions, while enriching the domestic scene with new objects, developed just as much with aesthetic quality in mind.

These are new intelligent objects, which render the home “reactive” and which become capable of learning, like living, sentient organisms, about the habits and behaviours of those who inhabit it, adapting to their needs in a responsive manner.

A further positive external effect of the use of these new tools in habitative spaces resides in the ability to control and contain domestic consumption, helping to curb its impact on running costs and on the environment, fine-tuning the running of homes to today’s needs for sustainability

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Lucy reflects the light emanating directly from the sky. Created by the Italian startup Solenica, based in America, Lucy is a heliostat mirror (i.e. it adjusts to continually reflect sunlight) mounted inside a transparent sphere which moves according to the movements of the sun during the day: once Lucy has been positioned to face the sun, it just needs to be angled so that it reflects the natural light, illuminating the parts of the house in shadow.

Lucy adjusts to follow the movements of the sun during the day, thus providing a continuous flow of light to a specific area. It can also be hooked up to smartphones, so that the amount of light it has provided during the day can be tracked, thus doing its bit to cut pollution.

Moreover, the fact that it is solar powered means that it requires no electricity, thus saving energy by turning off lights where not needed. It is rain and snow proof, and can also be used in outdoor spaces such as patios and balconies.

In a period of circumscribed economic and environmental resources, attention to saving and consumption takes on a strategic importance. There can be no better way of saving money while protecting the planet than managing to make one’s own habitation energy efficient.

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Produced by Polish startup Ecosime, the Ecosime device helps to monitor energy consumption in homes in which it is installed, controlling all the electrical devices in a bid to avoid needless waste.

Once Ecoisme is connected to the system and the relative app downloaded, it will keep track of all domestic energy consumption: what has been used, for how long and how much has been consumed, displaying all the information on a practical dashboard. This makes it easy to immediately identify which electrical appliances are the most energy efficient and how, potentially, to cut consumption. Ecoisme triggers a warning if an electrical appliance is not working and, if any have been left on by mistake, it will remind you with an alert, thereby proving to be a valuable ally when it comes to domestic safety.

Augmented Design refers to furniture and furnishings that are upgraded in a smart sense, thanks to the new technologies. The new digital functions “augment” the individual functions and are integrated harmoniously and invisibly into the shapes of the objects. The upshot is a sort of superdesign that brings a third “intelligent” dimension to the time-honoured combination of looks and functionality, elevating it to a higher status.

Furniture and furnishings thus “learn” to dialogue and connect with technological devices, becoming an integral part of the new digital ecosystem. Technology introduces an “intelligence quotient” into furnishing, providing items with actual superpowers that enhance their functional performance and enable them to communicate with each other.

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We’ve all done it, at least once: you go home, you forget put your smartphone on to charge, then it’s flat when you need it.

Fonesalesman, a London company specialising in wireless charging, has come up with a solution for the most distracted or lazy of us. Called FurniQi, it’s a minimalist and versatile bamboo table, suitable for all parts of the house and for various uses, from bedside table to small worktable, and can be assembled in no time at all (60 seconds, according to the manufacturers).

Inside the table, well hidden from view, is a standard WiFi interface that can adapt to different devices enabled for wireless charging: simply drop your smartphone, tablet, smartwatch etc. onto the table and that’s it. Notification lights and sound alerts make FurniQi easy and practical to use, even in the dark.

Of all the new generation light bulbs, it’s fair to say that this one is truly brilliant.

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The Sony Multifunctional Light (developed using LED technology by Toshiba) does not simply light up the various parts of the house “intelligently”, by being activated remotely or programmed to come on and off at set times or dimmed.

Equipped with a whole series of sensors that track movement, brightness, temperature and humidity, built-in microSD slots, loudspeakers and a microphone, the lamp is capable of carrying out myriad functions. It can turn on electrical appliances (from televisions to air conditioners), turn on the stereo or act as a loudspeaker for voice messages.

Its lines are delicately evocative of clean, minimalist Japanese style – it is a flat, backlit disc that gives out a soft, enveloping light and, despite its simplicity, can create an atmosphere in whichever rooms it has been installed, immediately becoming their strong point.

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Everyone knows what an uphill task it can be getting children to eat. One common way round this is to turn meals into a game. This was the concept behind Argentinian creative firm Wunderman’s 2.0 meal set.

Yumit is a non-slip heat-resistant silicone meal set with rounded edges - and comes in a choice of fun colour options  –  which includes a plate, fork, knife and spoon, resting on a tray hooked up to a smartphone or tablet app. With Yumit, every single calorie the children consume is turned into “virtual energy” which they can spend on playing games on tablets or consoles (but only after eating all their food!); it also allows parents to monitor their children’s intake precisely.

Yumit has added a degree of interactivity to a universal ritual, but in a non-invasive manner, given that it integrates items found on every table of every family, with discreet and functional technology.