Building flat-pack furniture is a major pain in the arse, so much so that a MIT team has spent years and millions of dollars solving the problem. Actually, that's not quite true: the problem they're trying to solve is actually a far more exciting one, even if it won't benefit IKEA quite yet.
Wired has a good look at MIT's Self-Assembly Lab, a team dedicated to — you guessed it! — making things assemble themselves without any human input. The ramifications are obvious, and astronomical: most of the stages of building products are assembly, and even though robots have automated large swathes of factories, it's still a huge industry.
The proof-of-concept the MIT lab have at the moment is a self-assembling chair, made up of six pieces, which are placed in a water tank and agitated until they magnetically snap together. The chair's only 15cm big, and assembly took seven hours, so it's not going to save you from flat-pack hell quite yet — but the next step is to build a human-sized one, and eventually scale the project up to assemble hundreds at the same time. [Wired]