Published on July 13th, 2018 | by Emergent Enterprise0
What if Your Coffee Table Was Also a Robot?
It’s not as wild as it sounds. According to one designer, autonomous furniture could vastly improve the way disabled people get around their homes.
Life hacks aren’t just for the productivity-obsessed. They’re a necessary part of life for differently abled people navigating a world that was not designed for everyone.
Malaeb’s ultimate vision for Relay goes much further, though. During the design process, he spoke with people at the Brooklyn Center for Independence of the Disabled to get input from potential users on what they’d like to see in their furniture. One woman wanted a smart walker that could also double as a side table. Another, who’s a wheelchair user and lives alone, is afraid of falling and not being able to get back up–she told Malaeb she wants a “picker-upper.” Eventually, Malaeb hopes to be able to build custom pieces of robotic furniture to users’ specifications.
Malaeb envisions a piece of furniture that could even help someone get up off the couch or get back into a wheelchair after falling, even if his prototype isn’t that advanced yet.
For now, the prototype is a very rough vision of what Relay could be. After hearing about how expensive service dogs are–one current solution to helping disabled people get around–Malaeb hopes to create furniture that is FDA-approved, which would allow people to use insurance money to buy it. He imagines finding a way to add mechanical parts to existing affordable furniture, too, so that any old Ikea table could become robotic.
Perhaps one day, all of us will have furniture that adapts to what we need at that moment, whether that means a rolling work desk or a coffee table that springs to life when you call.
Images: Nour Malaeb