Smart-home robotics company Bumblebee was started by an Apple and Tesla veteran.
The company’s robot technology stores furniture in the ceiling when not in use.
Bumblebee can convert bedrooms into offices, exercise studios, and more.
The COVID-19 pandemic and stay-at-home orders have made the case for Bumblebee Spaces, a modular smart-home robotics startup staffed by Apple and Tesla alums. The company is the modern, high-end version of Murphy beds, but for all furniture, which gets stored away in the ceiling when not needed. Bumblebee has upgraded and improved its design, which it first showed to Business Insider’s Katie Canales in early 2020.
Sankarshan Murthy founded Bumblebee Spaces in 2017, after working as a product manager at Apple and a product technologist at Tesla. He wouldn’t have been able to start Bumblebee without spending time at those companies, Murthy told Business Insider.
Bumblebee is a way to address the lack of affordable housing and people crowded into small apartment, but it’s different from typical solutions. From the beginning, Murthy says, the company was focused on addressing the ballooning cost of space, especially in cities. When people can’t afford space or are forced into homes that are too small, especially when that includes working from home during the coronavirus pandemic, it leads to “crappy living situations.”
Fixing the problem of space would either require building out into new areas, which is “terrible for the environment,” or making small spaces more appealing. Murthy and Bumblebee focus on the latter.
“I would rather make space for wilderness. If you can have a nice backyard, don’t put concrete there!” he said of the backyard office trend that emerged this year.
Here’s a look at how Bumblebee has improved its product and found a niche during the pandemic.
One of the locations with Bumblebee’s designs is a condo in San Francisco. Anyone buying a condo in the building has the option to upgrade with Bumblebee.
Bumblebee works directly with residents when they move in to make upgrades that make sense for their life and routine, Murthy told Business Insider. This is more crucial than ever as people are stuck inside during the pandemic.
The bed is one of the clearest examples of how Bumblebee can transform a small space, like a studio or one-bedroom apartment.
After the resident gets up, the bed goes away into the ceiling until it is needed again, freeing up that space.
The key to Bumblebee, Murthy says, is that the technology works around the life of the user.
“The conventional wisdom is that better quality of life equals a bigger home,” Murthy said. Bumblebee and Murthy attempt to make “truly efficient living” desirable.
He says he is really proud of the way the desk works; it can function as a standing desk, a typical sit-down desk, or work can be left completely intact and the desk can be stowed in the ceiling.
That way, Murthy says “When work is out of the way, it’s truly out of the way – you’re not sleeping in the office.”
The times when different pieces of furniture and appliances are needed are staggered, so it creates wasted space.
The system is modular, so residents can add only what they will actually use and need.
“Eventually, anything taking up a footprint in the home should not be static,” Murthy says, including appliances like washers and dryers.
The designs are minimalist enough to fit into nearly any space, and come in different finishes to match the aesthetic.
Most surprisingly for Murthy, the system actually gets used the way that it was designed, and people are able to find their things and rearrange rooms multiple times per day.
The Bumblebee team initially worried that the system might end up as “overspilled storage,” but all of the pieces are virtual and searchable.
Home is mostly “piles of stuff” that people don’t track, but in the Bumblebee control center, they can.
The system is designed to understand the user and what is stored to make helpful suggestions. It was designed to be a platform, rather than a product, Murthy told Business Insider.
Murthy says Bumblebee isn’t competing with Murphy bed manufacturers – they’re in a new category all together, with “robotics and concrete coming together.”
It “feels like you walked into the future; this is how people should be living,” Murthy says of his company’s designs.
Interested buyers can contact Bumblebee Spaces through the website and create a custom design based on their home.
Products range from $12,000 to $40,000, depending on the design and configuration.
Murthy is joined by some of “the best of the best” from his former employers, Apple and Tesla. He says that they joined him because “they believe this is the biggest creative challenge and the right thing to take on for the world.”
Read the original article on Business Insider