The Latest in Apartment Technology: Fridge Cams and Robotic Valets

 In U.S.

At night, renters can slide out a hidden bed, by manually pressing a switch; tapping their phones; or through voice-assistant software, which in Steel Works’s case means via Echo Dot. This puck-sized device comes with all units.

In the morning, the bed can retract inside the Ori unit, which is plugged into a wall and mounted on a track, allowing the entire unit to be moved to create a larger living space for entertaining. The unit, lined with hanging rods and drawers, is made of poplar plywood and also has a surface that can be extended for a desk.


Personal items can be stored and transported by low-slung robotic platforms at 520 West 28th Street, a new condo by the High Line from the Related Companies. Here, a car hitches a ride on a platform, which travels the space by reading squares on the floor that are dotted with bar codes.

Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

Ori, which takes its name from “origami,” is expected to be most popular with renters of storage-challenged studios. The technology could help avoid the hassle of folding futons every morning, though it still may have to work out some kinks.

During a planned demonstration earlier this month, the bed could not be extended automatically because a “power surge” had disabled part of its motor, according to building managers. But the bed could still trundle manually, which is important in the case of a blackout, representatives of Steel Works said.

The voice-activation feature was also not working. Steven Shaw, a DeBartolo manager, later said this was because a Wi-Fi connection had not yet been set up.

For an Ori unit, renters would likely pay an extra $350 a month, in a building where studio rents currently start at about $1,900 a month, Mr. Shaw said, though final pricing had not yet been set.

But Mr. Shaw said he expected the unit to catch on with renters in the next four phases of the 35-acre Riverbend District. About 20 percent of the additional 2,700 apartments in the project will be the kind of studios with layouts well-suited for an Ori unit. “I think it will be well received by those who are making the transition from college to apartment life, who don’t really have any furniture yet, and are looking for value,” he said.

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