Automated furniture app transforms tiny apartments into mini mansions

Image: ori

Most people don’t live in tiny Fifth Element style apartments. But since some of the most popular cities are beginning to feel the squeeze, an idea born in the MIT Media Lab is delivering a much-needed, tech-powered solution.

Based on an experimental project led by research scientist Kent Larson several years ago at MIT, the Ori system allows an apartment dweller to transform a studio apartment into the equivalent of a one-bedroom abode.

“Larson’s team at the Media Lab developed the technologies behind Ori as part of the CityHome research,” Hasier Larrea, the founder of Ori, told Mashable. “Then we created some initial functional prototypes but we were missing the industrial design side of things, and went to [designer] Yves Bhar to help us ‘transform’ this initial concept from a robot/machine to a customizable system that people would love to have in their homes. Yves’ team developed the brand, the control interface and initial set of customizable ‘skins’ that go on top of the original robotics.”

The newly formed company takes the old school notion of a Murphy bed and applies it to an array of modules that sit in the center of the apartment on a motorized frame.

Ori’s name is inspired by the Japanese word “origami,” which refers to the art of paper folding.

“The systems can be integrated in both a retrofit and a new building scenario,” Larrea said. “Just as an example, the first apartment shown in the video [above] is more than a decade old. The second apartment is a new building.”

Image: ori

Using this modular motorized method, the Ori system delivers a full-sized bed, a living room space with bookshelves and a couch or an office space with a full-sized desk space.

This concept has been around while, but aside from actually delivering it to the commercial real estate market, Ori’s other innovation is that it operates using sleek, touch-sensitive control panels located on the outer edge of the furniture module. Motion sensors detect when the user is near the control panel and illuminate a minimalist array of interface icons.

Image: ori

And when the apartment owner is outside of the apartment, he or she can use a mobile app to rearrange the pad from a distance.

So if you wake up and don’t have time to retract the bed before leaving for work, you can simply initialize Ori’s living room configuration remotely, giving you a ready-to-use living room when you return home.

“Many people living in urban environments no longer have the luxury of space, or they are choosing to live in a smaller footprint,” says Ori designer Bhar, in a statement sent to Mashable. “What Ori does is maximize the functionality of a space; with robotic technology it creates a beautiful and transformative living and working environment that is unlike anything the world has seen.”

Unfortunately, the innovation is only coming to three cities (Boston, Seattle and Washington, D.C.) this summer, and those will only be delivered to pre-selected commercial and residential real estate developers.

“We are initially targeting multifamily real estate developers/building owners, mostly rentals,” Larrea says. “This may become available to consumers directly with the right distribution and manufacturing partnerships, but in the short term the idea is to start B2B.”

That said, the company is accepting applications for the system from developers and building owners with plans to deploy more Ori systems in early 2017.

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Read more: http://mashable.com/2016/07/14/origami-furniture/