We may not have flying cars or time machines, but we do have furniture that actually assembles itself.
Belgian designer and engineer Carl de Smet invented furniture pieces using a smart foam technology that when exposed to a certain temperature (70 degrees) or an electrical current, will expand like "popcorn" and “build” itself.
The technology was modeled after an antenna designed for space travel that would expand when in contact with the sun’s rays.
The material -- shape memory polyurethane (SMPU) -- can be worked to expand into any design and just as easily can be shrunk back down to five times its size in a matter of 10 minutes.
"If it gets damaged and it's heated again, [the damage] disappears. If you ship the packaging and something happens to it, it doesn't matter because it isn't the end product; that's in the imprinted memory,” said De Smet to Dezeen magazine during product pre-production in 2012.
The designer called his creation revolutionary.
“Everybody goes to Ikea … then you have the typical assembling key, you put everything together and here the material is the mechanism so finally the material is doing the work for you," he said.
De Smet said he has been working on the invention since 2002.
“I really liked the idea of designing certain kinds of objects that have a performative behavior," said De Smet. "I wanted to bring it back to daily life and not only use it for high technology projects … ”
The products used for the pieces make it easy to produce the furniture in mass quantities and maintain affordability; a set retail price hasn’t been revealed. The futuristic furniture is expected to be available to consumers in 18 months.