MIT Researchers Develop All-in-One Robotic Furniture System

Developed with Yves Béhar, Ori hopes to solve the problem of cramped urban living with app-based, “smart” furniture.

Ori robot
Courtesy Ori

So far, smart-home solutions have focused on the technical systems in the house—heating and cooling, lighting, security—that already operate on electricity and can be controlled digitally. But can the internet of things transform “dumb” furniture, such as beds, tables, and storage? That is the question engineer and MIT research scientist Hasier Larrea set out to answer with his company Ori.

Working with Yves Béhar, Larrea released Ori Full and Ori Queen this past May, named for the bed at the heart of the units. Designed for compact spaces, especially for the micro-units going up across the country, the robotic furniture moves and folds into itself at the touch of a button (or a tap on the mobile app, or a voice command to Alexa), tucking the bed away, pulling out a work surface, or getting out of the way so there is space to have friends over for dinner. Even better, all of this can be done remotely or on a preset schedule, so tiny apartments will always be automatically ready for whatever the need of the hour is.

Units start shipping later this year and are available to consumers as well as developers in ten North American cities. And it isn’t just developers of micro-units who are signing up for these domestic robots—luxury developments like the Monarc at Met3 in Miami and MODE Logan Square in Chicago will open with Ori units installed. Meanwhile Larrea is already onto the next technology: “This first family of systems is just one of many applications of Ori technology,” he says. “We will continue to explore more spatial challenges and create new families of Ori systems for a variety of interior settings.”

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