Boston-based startup Ori is making it its mission to ensure downsizing in square footage no longer means sacrificing functionality or experience. Founded in 2015 by a team of MIT engineers, Ori is developing robotically controlled furniture that saves space and allows people to “live large in a small footprint.”
Ori raised a $6 million Series A in Sept. 2017 from Khosla Ventures. Ori is in the process of raising its next funding round. Ori’s roots can be traced to the CityHome project that was started in 2011 by MIT Media Lab’s Changing Places group. This research was conducted due to the fact that, at the time, “US apartment floorplans have shrunk by nearly 10% over the last 10 years, and across the globe 66% of the population is projected to live in cities by 2050.”
Ori is currently a resident at MassRobotics, the independent, non-profit organization serving as the innovation hub for robotics in Massachusetts.
“As a start-up coming out of the MIT Media Lab developing robotics technology, finding flexible office space that also gave us access to prototyping lab space was essential, but difficult to find,” Hasier Larrea, Ori CEO & Founder, told The Robot Report. “Not only did we find these things with MassRobotics, but we also found a community of like-minded and super-talented entrepreneurs and a very supportive MassRobotics team. It was just what we needed at just the right time for our growing company.”
“We were thrilled to have Ori move into our space not long after we opened,” said Joyce Sidopoulos, Co-Founder and Community and Programs Director, MassRobotics. “In the time they’ve been with us we’ve been able to see their prototypes evolve and their company grow, gaining influential customers and raising funding. These are the stories we like to tell and happy we were able to be a part of their journey.”
Ivan Fernandez de Casadevante
|Funding||$6M Series A (Series B imminent)|
|Products||Ori Pocket Closet
Ori Studio Suite
Ori Cloud Bed (launching soon)
|Mission||Ori is an innovation company on a mission to help people live large in a small footprint, by creating space on demand with robotic furniture designed to transform the way we see (and use) space.|
Ori brings robotic furniture to life
Ori has two products on the market. Its flagship product, Ori Studio Suite, launched in April 2018 and comes in two styles: Original and Slim. It features a bed, an entertainment center, storage space, a 50-inch TV nook and more. The bed is hidden when not in use. Becky Jablonski, Ori’s Marketing Manager, calls the bed the “modern day Murphy Bed.”
Ori’s second product, the Pocket Closet, is one or two shelving walls that move to reveal a walk-in closet. The Pocket Closet launched in late 2018 is available in three sizes and starts at $5,990.
Ori Co-founder and CEO Hasier Larrea’s 2015 TEDx talk “What if Furniture Had Superpowers?”
Ori will launch its next product, the Cloud Bed, sometime in 2020. The Cloud Bed retracts and disappears into the ceiling when not in use, revealing a coffee table and sofa along the way.
Ori said its products integrate robotics via the motorized tracks that move its products around a space. “Combining mechanics with electronics and software – the skeleton, muscle, brain, and intelligence that together make the furniture move at the touch of a button – that makes it robotic,” said Jablonski.
All of Ori’s products can be controlled using voice commands (Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant), through the Ori app or an Ori control panel. Jablonski said Ori’s products move on demand at the moment. However, a partner in Boston is building a development that integrates Ori’s product into true smart home living. The system learns the tenant’s schedule and arranges the furniture accordingly.
“We wanted to bring mechanics software and control into a moving wall, to remove the physical constraints so that you could use as much of the space as possible,” Larrea has said. “They called the new field of research “robotic interiors.”
Targeting real estate developers
While Ori Living does sell its products to consumers, it’s main business-to-business approach targets developers working on existing and new buildings. Developers want to have studio options available, but they don’t always know how to make them the most functional.
“If you have a studio of about 350 square feet, using the Studio Suite adds about 100-150 functional square feet,” said Jablonski. “A tenant wouldn’t want to invest in this if they’re only going to be there for a few years.”
The Studio Suite costs about $15,000, but it’s available at a lower cost if bought in larger quantities. The developers get the return on investment by charging a premium for the robotic furniture that makes the space feel bigger and function better.
As of July 2019, Ori had installed nearly 100 units of its robotic furniture in more than 25 apartment buildings, primarily in Boston, Chicago, Miami and San Francisco. But the company’s largest installation to date is set to open in the next few weeks. Nova Residences of Quincy is a seven-story building with 171 residential units in Quincy, Mass. The development will feature 41 Ori Living Studio Suites that “simulate the functionality of multiple rooms in a single, small, efficient space.”
Ori Living partners with IKEA
IKEA, ranked as the world’s largest furniture retailer since 2008, recently introduced its ROGNAN line of robotic furniture. If you think ROGNAN looks quite similar to Ori Living’s products, well, you’re on to something. ROGNAN is based on Ori’s robotic platform. Jablonski said Ori Living and IKEA engineers have been collaborating on ROGNAN for multiple years.
“Ori has been focused on rolling out robotic furniture in the US, but there are concerns about space across the world,” she said. “IKEA has the resources to make this technology accessible to the rest of the world. It’s awesome to have IKEA believe in a small startup.”
IKEA’s first launch of ROGNAN will be in Hong Kong and Japan during 2020. Jablonski said Ori Living’s licensing deal with IKEA isn’t exclusive.
“We’re looking for partnerships across the furniture industry,” she said. “We can provide the technology platform and partner with brands to bring robotic furniture to life. We want to empower as many people as possible to have flexible living spaces.”
Editor’s Note: Check out The Robot Report‘s Startups Section to learn about more innovative robotics startups.