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Robotic furniture could be coming to an apartment near you

Ori, the first company out of MIT Media Lab’s CityHome research project, seeks to create robotic furniture.Ori Systems

Imagine what life would be like in a cramped studio apartment if your bed glided into place when you wanted to sleep, then was replaced by a desk when you wanted to work.

Ori, the first company out of MIT Media Lab’s CityHome research project, is creating furniture for urban spaces -- not just smaller pieces, but smarter ones, equipped with robotics that move on demand.

The Ori unit will be marketed as a single system that can be customized to offer a bed, desk, and closet. It can also be shifted around the room to tuck all of that away and slide to one side to make space for a living room.


“Cities are pushing toward microunits, and the problem with them is that they become so small that they become dysfunctional,” said Hasier Larrea, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate who worked as project manager on CityHome.

He will work with Boston real estate developers Skanska, Boston Properties and Samuels & Associates over the next six months in hopes of testing four new apartments equipped with the system. Those apartments will be available for people to rent and test out. An earlier round of testing used several Airbnb properties, though it’s unclear whether an Airbnb model will be used this time.

The company declined to say how much money it has raised or when the units will be available for sale in Boston.

“Space is something we have to adapt to, our activities and our space,” said Larrea. “Now, what would happen if the space could adapt to us and our activities. We are trying to create tech to liberate ourselves from that.”

Hae Young Yoo can be reached at haeyoung.yoo@globe.com