This past week IKEA announced the launch of a groundbreaking product range that will be available for purchase in April. Part of IKEA Home Smart, the collection includes lamps, tables and desks all tailored to tackle one of today’s most common global tech annoyances: charging cords. Each piece is fitted with wireless charging pads and designed to integrate decoratively but subtly into people’s homes – the first wireless charging furniture directed at the consumer market.
The making of a connected product requires both the design of its physical appearance and the design of how it interacts and communicates with the user. Should it blink? Should it beep? And in the case of this furniture, how should it convey its functionality while still looking good? IKEA came to Veryday with the designs and asked for help in determining how these products should behave to be as intuitive as possible to the user while supporting our shared vision of a simpler, more human-centric home life.
We needed to come to a deep understanding of user needs and desires in order to recommend the best possible user experience guidelines. Our immersive and extensive testing process enabled us to pinpoint times and situations where charging becomes an issue for each individual. Different habits and routines create specific needs for each family member. An ideal home charging range would accommodate as many of these needs as possible – everything from personal bedside charging to charging the whole family’s electronics in a central hub all at once – in order to integrate naturally into everyday life. To ensure that consumers would intuitively understand the underlying functionality of these products despite their non-technological appearance, we conducted guerilla ethnography research in-store at select IKEA locations.
The insights gathered from our respondents helped us to design a framework for interaction, recommend priority products and make suggestions for future additions to the collection. We are convinced that IKEA’s new range marks the transition of connected homes from a futuristic vision to something truly useful, natural and delightful in people’s everyday lives.