The Question

Ori Is an Entire Apartment in One Robotic Piece of Furniture

If you live in a big city, then you know that urban space is at a premium. At some point, most of us have a kitchen that's more like a pantry with a sink, attached to a walk-in closet that was advertised as a bedroom. So what if, instead of needing a bed, a dresser, an entertainment center, and a desk, you just needed one piece of furniture? And what if that piece of furniture was a robot? Meet Ori.

Making Space

"Ori" is short for "origami" — the future is foldable, after all. But this house-in-a-box is much more than an assortment of furniture that unfolds whenever its needed. In the words of CEO Hasier Larrea, it's "technology to make 200 square feet feel luxurious." You might think of it as something like a hideaway bed, but it's also a hideaway desk, a hideaway closet, a hideaway television nook, and a hideaway storage space. You just plug it into the wall (the Ori uses about a tenth the electricity of a hairdryer), and shift it between its many different modes at the press of a button.

Or not. Actually, there are several different ways to control your Ori, depending on your needs. Download the app, and move your apartment around from your phone. Alternately, you could sync it with your Alexa and make the space you need using only voice commands. And finally, in the unfortunate event that your electricity goes out, the whole thing can be operated the old-fashioned way. Remember, too, it doesn't just open and close at your command. It actually moves around your apartment as needed.

Ori Consule

Bringing It All Home

The first version of Ori went by the more obvious name of CityHome, and in some ways, it was even more advanced than the current version. CityHome didn't need buttons at all — you could move it around using gestures alone. Additionally, it included such features as a working cooking range for extra functionality. But even if Ori can't do absolutely everything that CityHome can, that shouldn't necessarily be seen as a bad thing.

According to Larrea, the CityHome prototype developed for MIT's Media Lab was more about pushing the boundaries of what was possible than making something ready for market. "Reliability and safety are things that don't matter as much with a concept." But you don't want the burners hidden in your bed accidentally turning on in the middle of the night. And Larrea is also quick to point out that just because the starter version is missing a few gesture-activated bells and whistles, that doesn't mean future upgrades aren't in the cards.

The Ori Furniture System

Written by Reuben Westmaas September 11, 2017

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