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Cities AI

Tech’s New Housing Frontier: Furniture on the Ceiling

One of the more out-there experiments in how the tech industry wants to shape the future of housing will kick off this summer in San Francisco’s South Park neighborhood, which is dotted with venture capital offices. In some small apartments in a renovated building, beds, closets and cabinets will hang from the ceiling like light fixtures, attached to a motorized hoist system that lets them drop down by voice command.

The system is being pitched by Sankarshan Murthy, an engineer who worked at Tesla and Apple and now runs the stealth startup Bumblebee Spaces. He thinks of ceiling space as a “third dimension” underused for storage by real estate developers and architects. He plans to sell modular ceiling systems that include beds, closets and cabinets to builders who want to make small apartments more appealing to residents. The motorized systems will use sensors to keep furniture from crashing down on people, and computer vision systems to recognize and retrieve stored objects such as clothing or gadgets. “You’re wasting money on housing paying for it in two dimensions,” Mr. Murthy said.

“We have technology integrated into almost everything else. Furniture is really a slow-moving product genre for that, because we have a lot of the psychological feelings about furniture, which technology is a counterpoint to,” Ms. Banks said. “It’s not a limitation of robotics, it’s a limitation of really nailing the use cases.”

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