It’s difficult to move heavy furniture around, so furniture is usually positioned for general use, even if there are specific setups that would be better for rare situations.
For example, your home might have a room that would be best configured in one way for watching movies, but a different way for a Thanksgiving dinner.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t make sense to move your furniture around every time you want to watch a movie, so furniture is almost always set up in a “good enough” general configuration. Until now, that is!
If furniture could “magically” move around on its own, it would be easy to have a room reconfigure itself so that you could, for example:
- Optimize a room for exercise / yoga (Figure 2a), with a large empty space in the middle.
- Have a “poker night” configuration (Figure 2b) where seating is clustered around a central table.
- Have a single wall in your house dedicated as an indoor climbing wall, along with a padded floor mat that would slide out from “nowhere” (perhaps from under a dresser or sofa).
- Have a large dining table that can automatically hide itself away when dinner is over.
Various layouts could be saved as furniture presets (Figure 1) that would be accessible at the press of a button. (This would be similar to how presets work on a motorized standing desk.)
Fig. 2a: An example “yoga” layout, where the center of the room is cleared. These 3D views were generated using the program “Sweet Home 3D” (http://www.sweethome3d.com/) on the Mac.
Fig. 2b: A “poker night” layout, featuring seating is arranged around an uncomfortably-low coffee table.
Fig. 2c: A “movie night” configuration that focuses on the television.
Method of implementation:
Each furniture leg would sit atop a motorized omni-directional wheel.
Any time you need to reconfigure a room, you just push a single button (perhaps labeled “THANKSGIVING DINNER” or “YOGA STUDIO”), and the furniture rolls into the pre-determined new configuration.
The furniture would need a few sensors in it, so that it would be able to detect unexpected obstacles / pets / etc. in the way.
It might be annoying to keep your furniture batteries charged, so the motorized furniture could automatically seek out power outlets and charge itself overnight while the homeowner is sleeping. (As a proof-of-concept of this idea, the Roomba vacuuming robot is capable of automatically returning itself to a charging station.)
Fig. 2d: This is what the room above might look like in an awkward but perhaps “good enough” default configuration that isn’t optimized for any specific use case.
You should throw out all of your existing furniture and get new Internet-connected furniture with powered wheels.
The problem of dealing with plugged-in electronics (like a television or set of speakers) is left as an exercise to the reader.
PROS: Even a small apartment can now feel enormous, since it can be reconfigured for every use case.
CONS: This “Internet of things” furniture will probably be hacked by someone who will randomly move your furniture around just for amusement.