Get in Bed With Skynet

Get in Bed With Skynet

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Robot furniture is happening. This is the single greatest thing to happen to humanity ever, the robots told us to say.

The Bumblebee Spaces “A.I. Butler” furniture system uses heavy duty straps to lower and raise the furniture from the ceiling. Video by Jason Henry for The New York TimesPublished On

As Americans cram into ever-tighter urban living arrangements, a question has emerged: Isn’t there some better way to furnish a tiny apartment?

Yes. The answer, of course, is robots.

Inside a model studio apartment at the Eugene, an 844-unit building on Manhattan’s West Side, sits a blocky, Swiss Army-knife-like unit that looks a little like two-sided armoire with lots of compartments. It’s called Ori. Ori runs on a track and can be activated by voice command (“Alexa, have Ori make my bed!”) or by the touch of a square black button or a smartphone app. The furniture glides in and out of the living space. In a marketing video, jaunty indie pop plays in the background as a desk retracts into the Ori to create enough space for a woman to unfurl a yoga mat. Later, a man lies on a couch as a table with a glass of white wine moves to his meet his hand.

Our units are getting smaller and smaller,” said Maria Masi, the senior vice president of development for Brookfield Properties, the New York-based developer that owns the Eugene. Robotic furniture, she said, could help renters stay in their studios for longer. It could also, for instance, justify charging higher rents for no-bedroom units that live more like one-bedrooms. “You use your space differently throughout the day,” she said. “You effectively don’t need a separate bedroom anymore.”