A US startup is reimagining cramped apartments by designing robotic furniture that transforms a tiny space into a bedroom, living, working or storage area based on the occupant’s need.

A product of MIT’s Media Lab, Ori is making ‘robotic living’ a reality with smart robotic furniture that optimises space in small apartments. Ori's system can be described as an L-shaped unit installed on a track along a wall to enable sliding back and forth.

One side of the unit features a closet, a small fold-out desk, and several drawers and large cubbies with a pull-out bed at the bottom. The other side has a horizontal surface that opens out into a table, a vertical surface above featuring a large nook for a television, and additional drawers and cubbies. A third side opposite the wall contains still more shelving and pegs to hang coats and other items.

A control hub plugged into a wall, Ori’s mobile app or a smart home system allows users to control the entire unit.

Ori founder and CEO Hasier Larrea explains that their system enables a small studio apartment to become a bedroom, lounge, walk-in closet, or living and working area at any time, adding that robotics is used to make small spaces function as if they were two or three times bigger. 

Larrea expects apartments in future to be furnished with robotic furniture once the idea catches on in the market. For instance, the technology could evolve for kitchens, bathrooms and general partition walls. Instead of the resident adapting to the space, the space will adapt to them.

Ori’s initial production run of 500 units for apartments will be shipped over the next few months. The startup also aims to penetrate adjacent markets such as hotels, dormitories and offices.