Ori Systems, a furniture startup that grew out of a collaboration between MIT Media Lab students and designer Yves Behar, is finally rolling out its modular, robotic furniture into a handful of apartment buildings across the US. Currently only available for preorder to property developers, the first 1,200 systems will be installed in luxury apartments over the next 12 months.

Conceived by Kent Larson and his student Hasier Larrea, and originally called the CityHome, the idea was to create a robotically transformable modular system that would make it easy to reconfigure a single space into a multi-purpose environment that can function as bedroom, office and living room, with plenty of storage space to boot.

By 2016 the project had evolved into an independent startup called Ori Systems. The prototype unit, which is similar to the final product, was a single wall unit that can move back and forth across a room on wheels at the touch of a button. Different configurations can either roll out a bed, a desk or simply push the unit against the wall to extend the viewing distance to the media center.

The recently announced final commercial product offers a polished realization of that prototype and comes in two models, full or a queen, with the primary difference between the two units apparently just bed size. Both come flat-packed for assembly on site and are powered by a standard electrical outlet.

The unit can be controlled three ways: via an control interface on the unit, through an accompanying iOS or Android app, or via voice control using Amazon Alexa. We suggest those that talk in their sleep to potentially disable Alexa control or risk commanding the unit to reconfigure while you lie in bed. And if power cuts out the system is still reconfigurable, switching to a manual mode that allows you to move the unit yourself.

The system is still a little way away from hitting retail shelves, so no consumer-level prices have been announced, but the early price tag for developers is reportedly US$10,000 per unit. Not exactly cheap, but considering it does cover a great deal of necessary furniture in the one unit it isn't too bad. Once the company steps up production, prices may also come down.

With space in large city apartments always precious, these types of modular furniture systems could appeal to the ever-growing numbers of people being crammed into cities around the world.

Take a look at the system in action in the video below.

Source: Ori Systems

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