Appliances

Robot furniture wants to make your apartment feel bigger

This system converts a small space into a living room, bedroom or closet at the touch of a button.

Ori
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Studio apartments aren't big, so you want to make the most of the space you get.

One company is using so-called robotic furniture to turn tiny spaces into more functional living areas. If a closet, TV cabinet and bed had a lovechild, it would be the Ori system.

Designed in conjunction with Yves Behar's firm FuseProject, think of the Ori as a giant cupboard that moves around on a track. Press a button and within a few seconds your bedroom space is turned into a living room as the bed slides underneath the unit. Or convert the space into a closet by moving Ori into the center of the room to expose storage space.

Ori is controlled through a touch interface on the unit itself, through an app, or with voice control with Alexa. Additional support for platforms like Google Home and other smart home interfaces can be added. Support for apps like If This Then That (IFTTT) can also be added down the track, which would allow Ori to control devices like Nest thermostats, August smart locks or Philips Hue lights.

How fast does it move?

Around 3 inches per second. It can go twice as fast but it's limited for safety purposes.

So could I get trapped or crushed?

One of my fears is being trapped inside a Murphy bed as it slams up into the wall cavity, so this was one of the first questions I asked. With the Ori system there are several mechanisms that should prevent these sorts of accidents occurring. If you stand in the way of the unit, any impact will stop the system from moving any further, just like a garage door.

Hasier Larrea, founder and CEO of Ori, told me that the system will ship with full safety accreditations and that the final version may not move at all if it senses weight on the bed. A beam system may be added on the base so that if the beam is cut by an object or pet, for example, the system will stop.

Can I put this in my apartment right now?

No, the system is only being made available to real-estate developers at the moment. Ori has installations in several cities across the US including San Francisco, Seattle, New York and Boston, as well as a location in Canada. Each Ori unit starts at $10,000 which includes installation and maintenance. This cost would likely be passed on to the renter as a small premium per month over a regular studio apartment.

As a renter, all you do is bring your mattress (full or queen) and place it in the bed frame.

Does it work without power?

Yes it does. It just turns into a manual system where you push and pull the system on its tracks. It also works without being connected to the internet; you just lose the ability to control it with an app or through voice.

When it is connected, Ori is powered by a standard 15/20A circuit and draws around 60W.