ORI is a groundbreaking startup out of MIT Media Lab that has developed robotic furniture and architecture that can transform itself at the touch of a button. Installed into studios or one bedroom apartments, the ORI unit glides on magnetic actuators with a gentle push, or remotely through the corresponding app. One ORI unit can turn a studio or one bedroom apartment into a full-size bedroom, living room, office and closet - essentially tripling the usability of a small living space.
Cities such as London, Seattle, San Francisco, and most urban centers globally are seeing an influx of young professionals. And yet, those urban centers are also becoming more expensive and more condensed. People are seeking smaller living spaces as an economic opportunity, and while it meshes well with notions of sustainability, the question ORI is tackling is: how do we accommodate a living room, bedroom, closet and office space in a small 200-300 square feet apartment?
While the ORI team had the technology – magnetic actuators, electronics and software to glide heavy furniture and connect it to other smart devices – our goal was to find a single unit scenario that would maximize the value of a micro studio or one bedroom apartment. The unit had to be flexible for both the developer and end user, with modular features based on spatial volume. More importantly, it had to solve the problems inherent to micro-living, such as maximizing storage space and minimizing clutter.
The interaction design for ORI had to be seamless and intuitive, involving as minimal effort as possible for this robotic unit to enhance our daily lives. Through an on-device interface and corresponding app, the ORI interaction design is defined through day-to-day use cases in which we need our living situation to shift to support our needs.
The inaugural ORI system is a robotic furniture system that transforms at the touch of a button. Hidden into the bottom of the unit is a comfortable bed that glides in and out. When tucked in, the bed is hidden under a closet, office and couch to maximize space. When activated, the unit slides in and out to become a bedroom or a more generous living room. One side of the unit hosts a full closet, but also hides a desk for a home office; the other side holds a media center for entertaining. Each room can be preset for a space, including preferred integrated lighting, so that one touch on the physical interface or on the corresponding app will morph the room. The on-device console uses manual glider buttons that make the owner feel as though they are magically moving the unit. Pre-set configurations make transformation completely seamless - giving you the ability to wholly shift your apartment in moments.
The ORI user experience is defined by seamless transformation, turning your small living space into a fully-functional, and luxurious, apartment. The ORI app, mirroring the brand's foldable geometries, enables users to seamlessly transform their home ORI unit with the touch of a button. From anywhere in the world, the user can simply touch the icon for Living Room, Office or Bedroom, and the unit will shift to its pre-settings. In this way, if you have a friend coming over after work, you can tap 'Living Room' and have your home ready to go. Or, after you leave in the morning, you can tuck your bed away without having to make it. The app also lets users dive into deeper customizations in order to make their unit perfect for them. The same icons from the app also appear on the on-device interface, with intuitive arrows to guide the user to move the unit manually. The on-device interface, a seemingly stark black pyramid, comes to life with a motion sensor that lights the icons from underneath. Every element of the ORI experience is meant to feel like magic, at home or remotely.
In developing the ORI system and brand, we had to bring value both to the developer and the end user. Developers require a flexible and modular system to fit unique spaces, with a unique offering that will add value to a space. ORI creates financial value for renters or owners; a studio becomes a one bedroom, for example. By tripling the usage, and essentially the square footage of a space, apartments immediately see added value. For the user, mainly young professionals moving into urban environments, or adults who want to leave a smaller footprint by owning less and living lighter, we wanted to create an experience of luxury despite the obvious lack of space. This can be done utilizing quality materials, creating efficiencies through space and functionality, and also through the experience of the technology itself.
The global population will continue to grow, and a large percentage of this population will end up in urban centers. As living spaces get smaller and more condensed, it will be important for design and technology to bring solutions in order to maintain a quality standard of living. ORI does exactly this - by tripling the functionality of a small living space, ORI helps users realize a luxurious living situation while saving money and having a smaller overall footprint.