Do you immediately associate IKEA with flat-pack furniture and huge physical stores? If so, you might be surprised that IKEA Home Smart was launched back in 2012. The express intention was to inject some tech and digital aspects into their home products to create an IKEA smart home line.
Initially a project, Home Smart is now a discrete business unit within IKEA’s sprawling organization and responsible for end-to-end delivery. Headed up by Bjorn Block, the focus is on “products and solutions beyond conventional home furnishing.”
According to Peter van der Poel, head of IKEA Range and Supply, “This is the biggest new business since Children’s IKEA.” At a recent press conference, Poel added that the company “has decided to invest significantly in Home Smart…to fast-forward the development.”
So, with deep pockets and approaching a decade already in the trenches, how can you get started with IKEA’s smart home offerings?
IKEA Smart Home: The Basics
If you’re interested in buying into the cheap and growingly effective IKEA ecosystem, you’ll need a pair of devices to lay the foundations:
- Remote Control
- Gateway (unless you have Zigbee hub already)
The remote control – referred to as a steering device by IKEA – is essential even though you can take control of your smart home in-app or using voice commands.
The Home Smart ecosystem uses Zigbee protocol. If you already have a Zigbee hub like the one baked into Plus, you’re all set. If not, the IKEA Gateway hooks up to your WiFi router and allows everything to play nice. The remote control connects to Gateway wirelessly.
Get The IKEA App
You’ll see the word Trådfri used interchangeably with Home Smart to refer to IKEA’s smart home range.
Trådfri is Swedish for wireless so to get started with IKEA smart home products, you’ll need to download the app.
You sync your phone with Gateway using a QR code. The remote easily pairs to Gateway by simply holding down a button on the device. With everything now singing in harmony, you’ll be able to take the helm in-app. You can also use Alexa, Google Assistant or Apple HomeKit.
So, with all control mechanisms in place, it’s time for some devices.
Trådfri Smart LED Bulbs
The range of smart bulbs is impressive with a broad spread of colors, fittings and lumen output catering to all tastes.
Unless you already have an Echo Plus or another Zigbee hub, you’ll need to have the Gateway we mentioned above in place.
If you’re already invested into the Philips Hue ecosystem, you can add Trådfri smart bulbs into that system through the Hue Bridge. This is a neat touch and a great example of IKEA’s inclusiveness.
You’ll also need a steering device – a remote control – then you’ll be taking charge of your IKEA smart home lighting from a distance.
While you can control everything seamlessly within the uncluttered Trådfri app, you will need to be connected to the same WiFi network as the devices for control. This means you won’t be able to directly manipulate devices remotely.
Fortunately, scheduling is so simple you can set things up for your absence and sidestep the issue.
Away from Home mode does the job for you automatically, too. Rise and Shine mode gets your lights going gently in the morning then ramps up the brightness.
Even though you’ll need to buy the Gateway and Remote Control, these are priced so reasonably that the overall package is likely to encroach significantly into Philips Hue’s market share.
Symfonisk WiFi Bookshelf Speaker
A project with Sonos, the Symfonisk line follows up on IKEA’s Eneby Bluetooth speaker.
The new pair of speakers produced in tandem with the audio specialists, each doubles up as furniture.
A table lamp comes with a speaker onboard and the WiFi bookshelf speaker doubles as a wall shelf.
These speakers are designed to slot neatly into your Sonos ecosystem while acquitting themselves admirably on the audio front.
Trådfri Smart Plug
A low-key entry point for beginners to home automation, the plug-and-play simplicity of these smart outlets is marvelous.
Once you’ve slipped this plug into any regular outlet, you can smarten up traditional appliances like a fan, heater or coffee maker with remote control.
Priced much lower than a great deal of the competition, this outlet is another low-key gem from IKEA.
Nordmärke Wireless Charging
IKEA has been in the wireless charging game since 2015’s range of tables and lamps capable of wirelessly charging Qi-compatible handsets. This predated Apple’s involvement in this area.
The cork wireless charging pads, available as a single piece or as a triple pad, are compatible with all Qi-certified handsets with the understated design a modern classic.
Fyrtur and Kadrilj Smart Blinds
Quietly launched in Germany, these pair of smart blind lines are yet to hit the US.
Compatible with Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri, you’ll be able to enjoy subtle blinds with sci-fi control and all access problems solved.
Where do we go from these small beginnings, then?
The Future for IKEA Smart Home Line
With access to over 780 million shoppers coming through the stores, IKEA doubling down on home automation is a wake-up shout to Amazon and Google. With IDC predicting the growth of smart device sales to double by 2023, IKEA smart home might be slightly late getting to the party, but the future is glittering.
The physical stores might prove to be one of IKEA’s strongest advantages if they press ahead as planned in the smart home space.
Block makes it quite clear that IKEA won’t be rushing ahead on the smart home front: “We are more comfortable with evolution than revolution. We are not limited by product categories. We have access to the whole home.”
Well, if you weren’t aware of IKEA’s growing presence in the smart home space, now you are. Keep an eye out for more speakers and for those blinds to enter the US market. Sales are underway in Europe right now.
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