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Swiss "smart" furniture helps DIY enthusiasts

Smart furniture could make DIY tasks easier (www.homeimprovement.com) swissinfo.ch

Assembling a piece of furniture could soon become much easier thanks to new technology developed by Swiss scientists.

This content was published on September 5, 2002 - 16:14

A team from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich has designed "smart" furniture pieces with built-in microprocessors.

The sensors guide DIY enthusiasts though the assembly process, allowing them to dispense with confusing instruction booklets.

Stavros Antifakos, one of the two PhD students behind the project, told swissinfo that the team had succeeded in fixing microprocessors to the pieces that form the sides of an IKEA wardrobe.

"We attach them to the boards and they can watch what the user is doing," he said.

"They can sense how much has been assembled and they give you tips on how you should continue. If you get stuck, they tell you what comes next."

Antifakos explained that the assembler would be alerted to any problems by either flashing lights or noises from the sensors.

Unhelpful instructions

Antifakos said that written instructions show just one way of assembling an object, whereas in fact there are about 44 different possibilities.

But only eight of these result in a stable construction.

"There are two worlds: you have the real world and the world inside the instructions," he said.

"Our idea was to put the instructions inside the objects, so you are only looking at the furniture and you are not looking at the instructions any more."

The scientists say the technology, which is still under development, could also be used in the future for assembling tents in the dark and for adjusting the straps on backpacks.

swissinfo

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