CityHome, the house in a box that puts a spin on home automation


Imagine living in a 200 square feet apartment and being able to move pieces around to accommodate your needs giving you the impression to live in a place three times bigger. That is exactly the purpose behing CityHome, a research project led by MIT Media Lab’s Changing Places group.

The problem is that living spaces are bound to get smaller as world population grows, but with the right automation systems, you can actually make your space bigger, or at least use modular commodities that give you the impression your space is bigger.

The CityHome is an ultra-efficient, responsive urban home, providing a hardware and software ecosystem for personal space customization.

In the CityHome project, parts of your home furniture and space can move by simple gestures and voice commands. You can for example pull the bed forward when it’s time to go to sleep, or move the kitchen wall to make more space in the bathroom, all this with gestures.

Co-Design’s Mark Wilson explains:

It’s a mechanical box about the size of a closet that sits inside an apartment, where it stows a bed, dining room table, kitchen surface, a cooking range, a closet, and multipurpose storage, too. Through gestures, touch, and voice control, each element can be called forth from the cube. Internal motors eject each piece with the convenient fluidity of a power window. And, in a final trick, the entire module can move a few feet each way, extending or compressing a room at will. (If you’re not in the bathroom, do you need the space to use the shower, or would that square footage be better served in the living room or kitchen?)

All this might sound a little too far-fetched, but it’s real. Lead researcher Kent Larson confirmed that he wants to bring CityHome to market either by creating a startup or finding a commercial sponsor.