Smart furniture has become a recent buzzword. Although it gained its fame and popularity through its indoor applications, smart furniture has spread outdoors as well. It has been around for quite some time now, but it is suddenly gaining momentum and becoming more and more adopted around modern cities.
What exactly is smart furniture, what are its advantages, why is it spreading like wildfire, and also why is it likely to become an integral part of our future.
What is smart furniture?
You can most likely guess what smart furniture is simply from its name. Yes, it's furniture combined with technology, most frequently providing networking capabilities. It is standard useful furniture, but with additional features. This type of furniture has enhanced countless homes across the globe, putting them under the popular phrase “smart homes”.
Indoor smart furniture is at least in theory likely known to you. It’s the fridge which knows when you have to get new milk, it’s the panel which can be programmed to certain lighting settings according to times of the day.
Therefore, let us focus on the outdoor type used by OOH companies to upgrade cities to 21st century standards. An exquisite example of OOH smart furniture can be seen at some bus stops. Touchscreens transform the bus stop into a cozy smart home experience.
The primary goal of this kind of OOH smart furniture is to facilitate life overall while giving a potential audience an experience they associate positively. It intrigues people, makes them feel more comfortable, and of course, if combined with a message helps companies expand their brand recognition to more people.
Smart furniture provides unexpected features
In the past, we’ve written a lot about digital signage and its capabilities in public locations. All the features mentioned in there like, engagement, information about local points of interest, orientation, public event schedules, news and more!
Many innovative ideas and features are still in development, but some interesting smart furniture features are already on the market. An amazing example are smart bins, equipped with sensors which show how full the bin is and whether it’s time for garbage collection to come by. Additionally, bins can have sensors which indicate how many people walk past it. This can bring valuable information about the foot traffic in the areal.
Likewise, park benches could have sensors to indicate whether or not they’re regularly in use as a social space or for sleeping by the homeless. This, and a lot more detailed information can be derived once more aspects of smart furniture are fully developed. The benefit of this tracking data can pinpoint furniture which is not in use. This can indicate if it’s either broken or simply in a poor location, for example. Thus, the city can fix or relocate the smart furniture more appropriately.
You likely see now why smart furniture is so popular. It enhances the way societies in dense cities function. Digital signage is becoming an important component of it as it enables additional features, as you will see in a minute.
Cities increasingly adopt smart furniture
Smart furniture is pretty cool, and it has been increasingly developed and deployed in cities worldwide. New products emerge faster than ever as society welcomes them with open arms. And why wouldn't they be?
Think about it. It's a surprise smart furniture didn't come around sooner! Everyone has a smartphone these days. So a park bench equipped with an interactive display and a charging station is a completely natural thing to expect. Wouldn't you agree?
These digital displays integrated with smart furniture can provide the latest information like the upcoming weather, for a start. Interactivity opens up new potential where citizens can explore news, nearby places, events and similar public information. Let's not forget additional features like Wi-Fi connectivity and data tracking as they go hand in hand with the collection of tech features in one place.
Smart furniture is our collective future
It is highly unlikely that outdoor smart furniture will be just a passing trend. People genuinely use it and enjoy it as much as they do its indoor counterpart. The only issue with it is the privacy discomfort it may cause to citizens due to its tracking capabilities. In the age of the internet we're more aware of how vulnerable our privacy is. Thus, tracking sensors in every park bench might make us feel a bit more exposed.
Regarding the future, there are some hefty investments going into smart furniture. A few months back, the Smart Social Spaces Project kicked off, aiming at researching smart furniture, communities and urban management. Street furniture Australia is the industry partner for this project.
Georges River Council with University of New South Wales launched this project. Georges River Council mayor, Kevin Greene says “Council is keen to explore the role technology can play in connecting the community to public spaces, how it can help us to understand their needs, and encourage behaviours that improve health and wellbeing.”
Smart furniture has proven its potential, especially inside the more advanced homes of this day and age. It is quickly spreading outward, and we can surely expect the potential and progress we've seen behind doors to eventually come through to our everyday life as citizens of the 21st century.