As houses somehow manage to simultaneously get smaller and more expensive, two tech start-ups are promising a better way to furnish apartments: robots.
Ori Systems look like a giant wardrobe, but are much more. Ori comes from “origami”, the Japanese art of folding paper, and the modular furniture can be folded, slid and flipped to transform into different configurations.
Disappointingly, however, you can’t turn it into a beautiful swan.
There’s plenty you can do though. With the touch of a button, or a smartphone app, or even your voice (“hey, Alexa, enter bed mode”), the system will glide around the room. It’s all made possible by the Ori Control Interface, which kind of reminds me a bit too much of HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Remember the scene in Step Brothers, when Will Ferrell is excited about the amount of activities that having a bunk bed allows? Ori is kind of like that, but amplified to a thousand.
Feel like doing some yoga? Slide the bed out of the way and you’ll have plenty of space. Or maybe you need a desk to write your magnum opus? A desk will slide out at at your whim. At one point in the marketing video below, a man lies on a lounge and a table bearing a glass of white wine moseys on over to him.
Yes, it’s safe to say we’ve reached the peak of robotic ingenuity.
“On the one hand you have mass urbanisation and the challenges that it brings, to affordability of housing,” said Mr. Hasier Larrea, founder of Ori to the New York Times. “And then on the other hand, you have all these trends towards the internet of the things. These two trends are going to converge.”
Bumblebee Spaces offers another high-tech way to furnish your room. Their robotic “A.I. butler” furniture system is like furnishing a room with LEGO. Individual blocks of furniture and storage compartments are attached to the ceiling via seatbelt-like belts.
At the press of a button, all of your furniture, or just some, retracts up to the ceiling to free up your entire floor. If you’re worried about 200kgs of furniture above your head, you’d be right to be. Bumblebee Spaces requires certain building specifications, as well as a ceiling that is at least two metres high.
That’s not all that the butler does. There is also a useful – and potentially invasive – inventory system that uses a bunch of tiny cameras inside the storage boxes to track your belongings. Haven’t used that sweater your mum bought you in two years? The butler will suggest that you get rid of it (sorry mum).
I mean, would it even be a modern robot without sneakily surveying every aspect of your life under the guise of being helpful?
Bumblebee Spaces is the brainchild of Sankarshan Murthy, a former Tesla and Apple Watch engineer, so it’s safe to say he knows his gadgets.
Mr Murthy was inspired by his passion for minimalism and Marie Kondo’s KonMari anti-clutter philosophy, as well as looking for a new way to save space, other than Murphy beds and Ikea furniture.
Once one thinks about the way technology has taken over the rest of our lives, it’s easy to see how technological innovation in the home is the next frontier to conquer. Recently we’ve gotten Google Home and Alexa, which operate lighting and electronics around the home – why not the furniture itself?
“Housing is at such a premium and yet everyone is doing it the same,” said Mr Murthy.
A Bumblebee apartment in San Francisco costs AU $3,586.70 per month. The Ori system is a one-off payment of around AU $13,000.
For the mean time, I’ll stick to my Ikea bed thank you.