What would you do for the perfect chair? Would you head to your local Ikea, drop trou, and scan your derrière? (And just as importantly, would you opt to eat the meatballs before or after the scan?)
This future will be coming within the next two years, thanks to a new collaboration between educational e-sports group Area Academy, 3D-printing medical company Unyq, and Ikea. Together, the three organizations have developed a highly customized prototype chair “to develop ergonomic equipment for a better gaming experience for the 2 billion gamers around the world,” according to Ikea. According to 2016 data, the average gamer spends about six hours a week playing games, and that figure is growing on a clear trend line. Given that gaming, be it on PCs or iPhones, is primarily a seated experience, that means gaming time is time we’re spending in chairs.
At first glance, Ikea’s invention is a fairly typical hydraulic stool, but on top sits a two-panel mesh platform that’s been 3D-printed to conform perfectly to the contours of one person’s bottom.
Your 1-in-7-billion cellulite snowflake. Your posterior paunch pillow.
Again, your butt.
Exactly how the experience would work in a store hasn’t been developed yet, but it would require both a 3D scan and a 3D print. Ikea has stated that as futuristic as this sounds, it does intend to commercialize this concept by 2020.
So why does Ikea suddenly care so much about gaming? Video games themselves are a $137 billion global industry today, and e-sports alone are projected to grow to become a $2.3 billion industry by 2022. Fueled by titles like Overwatch, DOTA2, and Fortnight, we’re even seeing the rise of dedicated stadiums specifically built to allow thousands of people to watch pros play video games.
Ikea, in its quest to evolve and diversify its offerings, clearly sees an untapped market in creating custom furniture for gamers, which is a particularly synergistic strategy when you’re developing a 3D printed custom chair, because hardcore gamers are traditionally early adopters of new technology.
But(t) of course, any ergonomic technologies that are first designed for a high-end gaming chair could easily make their way into other Ikea furniture, too. In other words, eyes up here, folks. Ikea might be playing in gaming, but it’s always thinking world domination.