Ikea is no longer content to help people simply design their kitchens — the Scandinavian retailer is now considering ways to help customers grow the food cooked in them through Lokal, a prototype mini-farm capable of growing greens and herbs indoors.
Developed by Ikea's Space10 innovation lab, Lokal is based around a hydroponic farming system that uses LEDs to grow produce on stackable trays. The system's designers claim that Lokal greens grow roughly three times more quickly than those found in a traditional garden, using 90 percent less water in the process.
The design team is currently testing out a method of integrating sensors into the system's growing trays, which would allow at-home farmers to check the status of their crop from their smartphone via Google Home. The idea of using machine learning to analyze data collected by the community of Lokal gardeners is also being considered.
Ikea has yet to decide whether or not Lokal will be sold in stores, and according to Michael La Cour, Managing Director of IKEA Food Services, the project is still in its early stages and needs more development before it could be ready for retail.
However, whether or not Lokal makes it to an Ikea near you, vertical farming is clearly on the rise. This new methodology can be incredibly efficient and has already been employed in a retail environment in an effort to give customers access to the freshest possible produce. It also has the potential to help solve the growing food shortage crisis as the world's population continues skyward.
Many people like to be as self-sufficient as possible when it comes to their food, but not everyone has the space for a traditional garden or access to an allotment. Vertical farming gives just about anyone access to home-grown produce, so if a major company like Ikea can develop a straightforward kit to help would-be agriculturists get started, it has the potential to be a big success.