Ikea brings smart home to the masses

Monday 25 September 2017 | 14:26 CET | Background

Ikea started selling a few months ago smart lighting in an attempt to make its mark on the emerging smart home market. The Swedish company has several more smart products in the pipeline and wants to make sure these can communicate with devices from other brands. With a focus on affordability and ease of use, Ikea has a good chance of taking a leading role in the smart home market. 

Ike renews its product range each year, adding on average 2,500 new products to its assortment of affordable and simple-to-assemble home furnishings. The products are sold around the world from 403 outlets in 49 countries, and it recorded a total 915 million customer visits in at the end of 2016. Ikea's footprint also extends to 41 shopping centres in 15 countries, 38 distribution sites in 18 countries and around 20 pick-up and delivery points in 11 countries. The company generated revenues of EUR 36.4 billion in 2016, equal to annual growth of 7 percent. 

Ikea Group has a strong presence online, but 95 percent of its revenues are still generated in-store. The company sells online in 14 countries and plans to expand this to all its markets eventually. 

The company has definite plans to expand the smart lighting range, starting with new smart colour lamps in October, said spokeswoman Sabine Kaars Sijpesteijn. A new candle lamp will be added and in the coming year also integrated lighting for its PAX range of cupboards and kitchens. 


Ikea first entered the smart home market in 2015 with the launch of wireless chargers for mobile phones, also integrated into other products. Smart lighting is the next phase in its plan for a broader portfolio. The smart lighting is sold under the name Tradfri and from October will also be compatible with the digital assistant applications Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant as well as Apple HomeKit. The lights are based on the ZigBee protocol and can be controlled with a remote control or the Tradfri app. Controls include dimming, a three-step transition from warm to cool light or adapting the lighting to various times of day or activities. 

With the integration with Alexa and Google Assistant, users will be able to control the lamps with voice commands. The core of the Tradfri system is a gateway connected to the internet over Ethernet, creating a local network for the lamps. 

Ikea said Tradfri has been well-received on the Dutch market, better than expected. The Dutch are usually interested in new technology and gadgets, and consumers have been open to trying out the smart lighting, the spokesperson said. 

Tradfri is less extensive than for example the Philips Hue lamps, and also cheaper. While Ikea focuses on low prices and ease of use, Philips Hue offers a wider range of options and compatability. A Tradfri starter pack with the gateway starts at EUR 79.95, while Philips' smart lighting system is easily EUR 100 more expensive. Ikea has a good base to build on, as it sold already 79 million LED lamps worldwide last year.

Apple ARKit

In June, Ikea announced a partnership with Apple to develop a shopping app using augmented reality. Announced at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference and the Ikea Democratic Design Days, the app gives users an AR view of Ikea products and how they would they look in their own home, helping them decide whether to buy the furniture. In 2013 Ikea tested a similar idea with an app to view its products in 3D.

The new app uses Apple’s ARKit, a platform for iOS device users to experience AR without having to upgrade their hardware. In the first release, around 2,000 Ikea products are available to view. The aim is to include the entire product catalogue in the coming months and to add new products regularly. Customers will be able to buy products directly in the app in future. Ikea describes it as ‘AR for the masses’.

Ikea underlined that the app is complementary to its physical stores and is not intended to replace the in-store experience. Neverthless, technology in general is taking a more prominent role in its operations. The AR app is the latest in a series of product innovations by the company. In May it agreed to work with NASA and the Lund University School of Industrial Design on developing furniture for micro living on Mars. 

Ikea sees great potential in smart homes, and the trend is becoming increasingly important in its development, according to its spokesperson. Functionality, quality and affordability are incredibly important for Ikea. Integrating affordable technology in its offering is part of its goal to offer solutions for a better daily life, and that includes making smart home technology available to as many people as possible. More products will be added in the coming years to expand further the smart home offering. 

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