Skip to main content

Robotic furniture transforms Ikea’s tiny rooms with the touch of a button

Swedish home furnishings manufacturer Ikea is understandably proud of its tiny home designs, which can be found in demo form in most of its retail stores, where designers have crammed a bed, a sofa, a television, and a tiny kitchen into spaces as small as 250 square feet. Now, the company intends to augment that concept considerably by adding a line of robotic furniture that can convert from a storage and sofa area into a bed and wardrobe with the swipe of a finger across a touchpad or by voice command using a smart speaker.

The new line of products, based on Ikea’s partnership with Boston-based tech startup Ori, is called Rognan. According to the company, the product is designed to transform small spaces into comfortable, multifunctional homes, although we’re getting more of a vibe of Korben Dallas’ shoebox home in The Fifth Element than some futuristic habitat with Tony Stark’s Jarvis on board.

Ori’s robotic platform is already compatible with Ikea’s Platsa line of furniture, as well as the company’s Tradfri line of cabinet and wardrobe smart lighting. We’re basically talking a bout a large, transformable storage unit that can be activated by touchpad or a smart speaker to slide across a room to divide it into two living spaces. The unit also contains a bed, desk and a pullout couch.  Ikea claims that the technology embedded into the Rognan line of furniture can save up to 80-plus square feet (8 square meters for you EU lot) of living space.

“Instead of making the furniture smaller, we transform the furniture to the function you need at that time,” said Seana Strawn, Ikea product developer,  in a release. “When you sleep, you do not need your sofa. When you use your wardrobe, you do not need your bed.”

So when and where will this new robotic gizmo be available? Ikea says the Rognan line will launch in late 2020, with the first target markets being the super-dense communities found in Hong Kong and Japan. A worldwide rollout will presumably follow in the coming years.

While the inclusion of Ori’s robotic technology is probably the most robust rollout from the Swedish furniture giant in this market, it’s far from the company’s only experiment with transforming tiny living spaces. Ikea is also working with BumblebeeSpaces, an American startup that uses the ceiling to store furniture. The company is also drifting into the smart home market with a new smart speaker dubbed Symfonisk that was developed in conjunction with Sonos. It’s coming to Ikea’s Home Smart brand this August.

Other innovations recently announced at Ikea’s Democratic Design Days event include a project to use ocean plastic in new products, an initiative to use new materials to reduce air pollution, and a Thailand-based partnership to create new products based on reducing and repurposing materials that have already been created.

Clayton Moore
Clayton Moore’s interest in technology is deeply rooted in the work of writers like Warren Ellis, Cory Doctorow and Neal…
Roborock S8 MaxV Ultra vs. Roborock S8 Max Ultra: Which is the better robot vacuum?
The Roborock S8 MaxV Ultra placed in its dock.

The Roborock S8 MaxV Ultra and Roborock S8 Max Ultra are two of the newest additions to the Roborock family. Along with having almost identical names, these robot vacuums share much of the same spec sheet -- including the ability to mop and vacuum in a single cycle before automatically emptying their dustbin and cleaning their mops. They're impressive gadgets by all accounts, but since they're wildly expensive, you'll want to carefully compare the Roborock S8 MaxV Ultra and Roborock S8 Max Ultra before adding one to your home.

If you need help, here's a comprehensive look at these two premium robot vacuums, including a comparison of their vacuuming and mops skills, a look at their docking station perks, and a final determination of which is likely best for your needs. Keep in mind that you really can't go wrong with either product -- after all, they're two of the most expensive robots in the category -- but one might be a slightly better fit for your household than the other.
Pricing and availability

Read more
Roborock S8 MaxV Ultra vs. Narwal Freo X Ultra: Which is the best premium robot vacuum?
Narwal Freo X Ultra with dock in home

Few robot vacuums and mops are as well-rounded as the Roborock S8 MaxV Ultra and Narwal Freo X Ultra. The two premium robots will vacuum and mop entirely on their own, before returning to their docks to automatically clean their mopheads and empty their dustbins. That sort of functionality doesn't come cheap, with both products carrying hefty price tags that'll put a big dent in your budget.

Because they're so expensive, you'll want to pay close attention to the differences between these two robot vacuums. Both are great additions to any household, but one might be a better fit for your needs than the other.

Read more
Roborock S8 MaxV Ultra vs. Ecovacs Deebot X2 Combo: Which premium robot vacuum is best?
The Roborock S8 MaxV Ultra placed in its dock.

Roborock and Ecovacs are two of the biggest names in the world of robot vacuums. The companies have been producing some of the best robot vacuum and mop combos for years, and that trend has continued into 2024 with the Roborock S8 MaxV Ultra and Ecovacs Deebot X2 Combo. Both are ultra-premium devices that clock in at over $1,000, and we awarded both of them impressive scores in our reviews. In short, it's hard to go wrong with either robot vacuum.

However, there are some key differences between the Roborock S8 MaxV Ultra and the Ecovacs Deebot X2 Combo. From suction power and mopping skills to pricing and additional features, here's a comprehensive look at the two robot vacuums to help you decide which is best for your home.
Pricing and availability

Read more