Artificially intelligent furniture of the future

Carlo Ratti Associati unveils a digitally transformable sofa that morphs into different forms.

Recently unveiled at Milan Design Week 2016, Lift-Bit is a digitally transformable sofa that works through a tablet app to change its topography based on a user’s preference. Made up of a series of hexagonal stools, Lift-Bit can be ordered into any arrangement from a sofa or a minimalist living room to a bed or a small auditorium.

International design firm Carlo Ratti Associati designed Lift-bit with the help of Swiss furniture company Vitra. The inspiration behind the concept was the 1978 Generator Project by English architect Cedric Price. According to the Museum of Modern Art, Price’s project was “a system of cube like elements that could be moved and combined with others or with additional elements to create temporary structures.” It is recognised as the earliest experiment in artificially intelligent architecture.

Now 38 years later, Carlo Ratti Associati has built the world’s first digitally reconfigurable furniture system. The system is composed of a series of individual, upholstered stools, which can be raised or lowered by a built-in motor device called a linear actuator.

The Lift-Bit can be controlled with gesture movement or remotely using a mobile app that includes a series of predetermined shapes to get you started, and a tool for creating new configurations. When the system is not used for a certain length of time, it will start shape-shifting itself to interact with users.

The possibilities of Lift-Bit are endless due to its scalability. Aside from its application as a smart furniture system, the design is further enhanced when it is assembled in large compositions that can completely change the topography of a room.