Living in an urban shoebox? You need a RoboWall.

Finally, urban living meets the Jetsons.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s CityHome isn’t the first tiny apartment to experiment with the idea of specialized space-saving compartments, but there’s a special appeal to the CityHome’s RoboWall: you don’t even have to touch it.

A group at MIT have designed the RoboWall, a touchless unit that fits into a 200-square-foot apartment but gives it the functionality of one three times that size. With its various compartments, it allows someone living in a tiny studio to host a dinner party that can seat six. There’s an expandable kitchen when you need more counter space to cook a meal for all of those people. And when you’re done hosting and cleaning up, you can fall asleep in the trundle bed that’s housed in the bottom. The entire wall slides on a track to expand the bathroom, though the CityHome also includes a door for privacy.

MIT Media Lab researchers Kent Larson, Hasier Larrea, Daniel Goodman, Oier Ariño and Phillip Ewing created the RoboWall for a project called Changing Places, which focuses on finding ways to make living and work spaces more responsive (hence the gesture-powered apartment) and more environmentally sustainable. The CityHome is designed to integrate with apps to control everything from your lighting to your window shades.

No word on what happens when the power goes out or if, with the flick of a wrist, someone — like a prankster friend or an enterprising cat — can trap you in your own bed while you’re sleeping by telling the bed to recede into the RoboWall.

For now, it’s a prototype. Surely that will get worked out before it goes to market, right?

h/t TechCrunch

Soraya Nadia McDonald covers arts, entertainment and culture for the Washington Post with a focus on race and gender issues.
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Nick Kirkpatrick · June 5, 2014