Ikea made its name and reputation on inexpensive, easy to assemble furniture, but the Swedish behemoth also sells cheap home goods, everything from wall art to spatulas. Of late, it’s been augmenting its offerings with innovative products like Wifi-connected lights and window shades you can raise and lower with Alexa. But Gunrid, it’s newest line, might just be its most unique product yet.
Not that it looks that way at first. Gunrid looks like regular old curtains, the kind you hang up to shield your home from light and prevent your neighbors from looking in. Its high-tech hidden power comes from the mineral-based photocatalyst that’s applied to the fabric.
Mauricio Affonso, a product developer with Ikea, explained how Gunrid works in a video. “When the fabric gets in contact with light, it breaks down common indoor pollutants like odors and formaldehyde.” While similar technology has been deployed before, Ikea says that its photocatalyst is the first that can be activated by indoor light. It’s a passive, non-electric way to address a serious problem.
The World Health Organization says that 90 percent of people breathe polluted air. And while you might think of billowing smokestacks and cities swallowed by smog when you think of air pollution, indoor air pollution is actually more deadly, killing 4.3 million people each year versus 3 million who die from outdoor air pollution.
The EPA says that poor indoor air quality can cause both immediate effects like headaches, dizziness, and fatigue and long-term problems like respiratory disease, heart disease, and cancer that can be “seriously debilitating” or fatal.
Gunrid is still in the testing process, but if all goes to plan you could get your hands on your own air-cleaning curtains in 2020.