IKEA partners with Apple to bring virtual furniture to the home

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IKEA will be one of the launch partners for Apple’s augmented reality framework, bundled into the iOS 11 release. The new AR app will show customers virtual furniture in their own home. Customers take a series of photos of a room before choosing from IKEA’s vast selection of furniture. The Swedish company expects to have 5,600 products available on the AR app at launch, according to 9to5Mac. See Also: Apple wants you to pay big for their smart speaker IKEA already allows customers to slot renders of furniture in their home, but the Apple technology makes the size and lighting much more…Read More

Connected Devices – ReadWrite

Herman Miller launches connected office furniture range

Herman Miller launches connected office furniture range

Just when you thought everything that could be connected to the internet had already been connected, along comes the connected desk.

The Herman Miller Aeron office chair

The Live furniture range has been produced by Herman Miller, a furniture design company with plenty of cachet. It’s the name, for example, behind the iconic Aeron office chair (pictured).

The company’s new connected desk concept is pretty straightforward. Desks, whether fixed-height desks or sit-to-stand desks, are equipped with sensors that monitor how they are used and this data is collected for analysis.

The connected system through which this data is stored and used is called Live OS. It aggregates anonymized usage information over time, and this data is used to provide insights into patterns of usage through dashboards.

In control

The Live OS app in action

Individuals can control over any desk via a smartphone app. The example Herman Miller gives is pointing the app at a sit-to-stand desk to make a connection, and then having it automatically set itself to the preferred height.

Users can set their own goals for moving between sit and stand at a particular desk, and receive alerts when it is time to change. This is designed to promote a healthier workplace, as awareness grows about the problems caused by remaining seated for hours at a time.

“Our initial testing indicates that employees using Live sit-to-stand desks have become more active, transitioning between sitting and standing six-times as often as previously recorded,” reported Ryan Anderson, director of commercialization for Live OS.

In a hot-desking environment or managed office space, building managers could use Live OS to check out which desks are currently occupied and then allocate those that are unused to workers as they arrive.

Read more: Powervault to give electric car batteries a second life in smart homes

All about insight

The Herman Miller blurb positions the benefits this way: “With the data insights captured through Live OS, organizations can better measure and manage workplace strategy to optimize real estate usage and improve employee experience.”

Sensors can either be fitted to a desk at purchase or retrofitted to an existing desk, making it easy to bring the whole office into the ecosystem.

“Live OS is an example of how Herman Miller continues to evolve to better serve our customers as they increasingly look to the workplace to drive their own business transformation” said Greg Bylsma, president of Herman Miller in North America.

“With decades of experience in human-centered design, we’re introducing services like Live OS to help our customers create workplaces that empower, energize and perform.”

Live OS is initially available in North America.

Read more: Apple joins race for smart home supremacy with HomePod

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Ford thinks it can solve its problems by putting a longtime furniture executive in charge

Ford replaced Mark Fields with former Steelcase CEO Jim Hackett.

Ford, facing challenges from both automotive and tech competitors, has a new boss, one with little experience in the automotive or tech industries.

New Ford CEO Jim Hackett has served on Ford’s board since 2013, and he spent the last year running Ford’s Smart Mobility Group — its department focusing on on-demand services and other new businesses.

But most of Hackett’s career was spent in the furniture business. He ran Steelcase, the office furniture giant, for 20 years. He also spent two years as the University of Michigan’s interim athletic director.

Hackett is replacing Mark Fields, who’d been at Ford since 1989 and was the CEO since 2012.

It’s an odd time for the company to tap someone from outside the world of automotive or technology. But Fields faced criticism for moving the company too slowly into the world of self-driving cars and other tech advances. And Wall Street didn’t like Ford under Fields, period: Shares were down 40 percent during his tenure.

Rival General Motor’s shares, meanwhile, have bounced around in the same period, but are now more or less where they were three years ago. Chrysler shares, which started trading again in October 2014 at around $ 5.98, are now trading at $ 10.74.

The leadership swap also signals that executive chairman Bill Ford Jr. will play a more active role in the company than he did during Fields’ and Alan Mulalley’s tenures as CEO. Now both the government relations and communications departments will report to Ford Jr., not the company’s newly hired CEO.

Ford finalized the decision to replace Fields on Friday but, as he said on a press call today, there had been discussions about the move for some time.

“No decision like this is made hastily,” he said without going into much more detail.

Now, Ford and Hackett are faced with the task of integrating the culture and vision of its mobility projects — which Fields previously compared to a startup-like environment — into the rest of the company. Traditionally, both internally and in the public, those two businesses were considered and referred to separately as the core and emerging business.

Hackett has to find a way to move the two businesses forward faster and as one.

It’s a problem akin to what traditional publishers faced in the early days of digital media. After creating digital arms that were cordoned off from the core operations, traditional publishers struggled to integrate it into the DNA of the business while native digital companies were able to quickly gain a competitive advantage in the nascent industry.

For Ford, the question is how does the company take the move-fast approach of its mobility arm and apply it to its manufacturing arm, which is typically burdened with things like bureaucratic red tape?

“The whole company needs to evolve and change. The change is not just going to happen just at [Ford Smart Mobility],” Ford said. “We don’t want competing groups, we don’t want one group to feel like they’re the cool group and the other group is the left-out group.”

Exactly how they’ll do that has yet to become clear. For now, the company will continue to operate Ford Smart Mobility as a separate entity.

“It’s appropriate that Ford Smart Mobility still exists because they do need to work on these new business models and both invent them and develop them,” Ford said. “But it’s important that we are seen by our employees and ultimately by the public that this … is how we’re moving forward as one company and not several separate companies.”

Ford has spent the better part of the last year or so scrambling to make investments in the autonomous and mobility space. Within a matter of months the company announced it was pouring money into companies like lidar manufacturer Velodyne, mapping startup Civil Maps and acquiring on-demand shuttle service Chariot.

In the beginning of 2017, the company put $ 1 billion toward acquiring the majority of self-driving startup Argo AI.

But those moves came after many players in the industry — including Tesla and Alphabet’s Waymo unit — had made significant strides, and are already seeing progress in their autonomous efforts.


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