Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab's Changing Places group have been working to change how urban dwellers live. A few years ago, they came up with the concept for CityHome — a tiny "hyper-efficient, technology-enabled" apartment, which uses robotic controls to move furniture built into a wall unit to reconfigure itself for different uses. That way, it can function as an office, bedroom, kitchen or party space, depending upon the time of day. A 200-square-foot (18.6-square-meter) space might function like one three times larger, thanks to the adaptability.
This "apartment in a box" might seem like a futuristic fantasy, but pretty soon, you'll be able to live in one thanks to a collaboration between between Media Lab and industrial designer and Fuseproject founder Yves Béhar.
A new company called Ori Systems is marketing a $10,000 robotic furniture system that that can change into different configurations on command. You can give it instructions through a control interface on the side of the unit, through a smartphone app or by talking to one of Amazon's Alexa-enabled intelligent agent devices.
"You will always be a finger touch, tap or voice command away from having your space adapt to you," Ori Systems says on its website.
The shape-shifting unit comes in flat-packed pieces that are designed to be assembled on site, and plugged into a conventional electrical outlet. The robotic unit moves along a linear track that gets taped to any hard floor surface.
Here's a video showing how it works:
If you'd like to buy the apartment-in-a-box and install it in your house or apartment, though, you may have to wait a while. So far, the company is only taking pre-orders from commercial real estate developers in New York, San Francisco, Boston, Seattle, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Vancouver, Miami, and Columbus, Ohio. The company's website doesn't give the price, but a Fastcodesign.com article says units will start at $10,000 apiece.